Saudi markets fall on bank losses; other Gulf quiet

Saudi Arabia’s markets opened lower on Thursday, extending previous losses, after declines by banking shares. Other major Gulf markets were little changed.

The Saudi index fell 0.3 percent in early trade as Al Rajhi Bank declined 0.5 percent and Samba Financial Group was down 1 percent.

Among other stocks, Saudi Basic Industries decreased 0.8 percent.

Saudi Aramco’s bookrunners have recommended pricing its initial public offering at 32 riyals ($8.5) per share, the top of an indicated price range, Reuters reported, citing three sources familiar with the deal, potentially making it the world’s biggest IPO.

Aramco is expected to announce on Thursday the results of the book-building for allocating shares to institutional buyers, typically asset managers, insurers or pension funds.

If the deal is priced at the top of the range, Aramco’s IPO will exceed the $25 billion raised in the listing of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in 2014, the biggest flotation to date.

The Dubai index traded flat. Emirates NBD Bank dropped 0.8 percent. Developer Emaar Properties added 0.7 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.1 percent. International Holding fell 5.2 percent and Emirates Telecommunications was down 0.2 percent.

The United Arab Emirates economy is projected to grow by 2.3 percent in 2019. The central bank had forecast growth of 2.4 percent.

Growth in United Arab Emirates’ non-oil private sector slowed to a 10-year low in November and companies saw the first monthly decline in new orders on record, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Qatari index edged up 0.1 percent, driven by a 0.7 percent gain in Qatar Islamic Bank and a 1.6 percent rise in Mesaieed Petrochemical.

On Thursday, Mesaieed said it received an income tax exemption from government effective January 01, 2019. It will also be entitled to a tax refund of 170 million Qatari riyals.

Source: Reuters