Saudi, Qatar edge up early on, UAE moves sideways

Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar edged up in early trade on Thursday, with the top Saudi petrochemical producer climbing after acquisition news, while United Arab Emirates bourses moved sideways.

The Saudi index was 0.2 percent higher after an hour with Saudi Basic Industries Corp adding 1.6 percent to its highest level since early 2015.

It agreed to acquire a 24.99 percent stake in Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant AG, becoming the Swiss company’s largest shareholder. SABIC did not say how much it paid, but the 24.99 percent stake is worth $2.4 billion based on its market capitalisation.

However, Saudi Fertilizers dropped 2.4 percent after reporting fourth-quarter net profit dropped to 62.5 million riyals ($16.7 million) from 268.4‍​ million riyals a year ago, mainly because of a scheduled shutdown of facilities but partly because of an increase in fixed and variable costs. In the first nine months, net profit rose 6 percent.

In Qatar, the index rose 0.3 percent as Masaieed Petrochemical surged 3.3 percent and drilling rig provider Gulf International Services gained 2.4 percent in active trade.

Both companies could benefit from the rise of the Brent oil price to a new three-year high above $70 a barrel on Thursday.

But property firm Ezdan Holding tumbled 6.7 percent after reporting a drop in annual net profit to 1.69 billion riyals ($464 million) from 1.81 billion riyals, and deciding not to pay a 2017 dividend. In the first nine months of this year, profit rose 9 percent.

Dubai’s index was flat with most stocks trading narrowly, although real estate firm Deyaar, the most heavily traded stock, climbed 2.3 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.2 percent but ADNOC Distribution rose 1.5 percent after saying it would open 13 new petrol stations in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in 2018. Source: Reuters