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|10 July, 2018

MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings hopes lift Qatar, Saudi petrochem, banks rise

Most Gulf stocks ended higher on Tuesday

Investors talk with each other as they monitor a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2016.

Investors talk with each other as they monitor a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2016.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

DUBAI- Most Gulf stocks ended higher on Tuesday, led by Qatar, whose main index surged to an over five-month high on expectations of strong corporate earnings, while firm oil prices boosted petrochemical stocks in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar index  closed 1.4 up at 9,396 points, its highest since January 30 this year. The gains were fuelled by a 2.2 percent gain in Qatar National BankQNBK.QA and a 2.1 percent rise in Industries Qatar .

QNB Financial Services said in a note it estimates banks, under its coverage, are expected to post an annual increase of 18.4 percent in earnings during the second quarter, largely due to a base effect stemming from Qatar's Commercial Ban .

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Commercial Bank, the Gulf Arab state's third-largest lender by assets, had reported a 58.4 percent slump in second-quarter net profit in 2017. 

The forecast excluded Qatar National Bank, which is reporting its earnings on Wednesday.

For diversified non-bank earnings, the securities firm forecast a year-on-year jump of 30.1 percent in the second quarter.

"For the time being, valuations are attractive versus the region's forward price-to-earnings multiples and dividend yields remain superior to the region," QNB analysts said in the report.

The Qatar Stock Exchange Index trades at a 2019 forward earnings ratio of 11.4 times with a dividend yield of 4.7 percent, while the MSCI GCC Index, which covers the Gulf region, trades at a 12.0 times earnings and a dividend yield of 4.4 percent, QNB said.

The Saudi index rose 1.1 percent as higher oil prices boosted shares of petrochemical companies.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical was up almost one percent at 16.88 riyals. Goldman Sachs said in a report this week it is raising its 12-month price target to 18.5 riyals from 16.9 riyals, on the back of higher estimates to reflect higher product pricing and lower feedstock costs.

Saudi Basic Industries was up nearly 1 percent.

Financial stocks also rallied with Samba Financial Group surging 3.5 percent and Al Rajhi Bank up 1.2 percent.

"We believe most Saudi Arabia large caps trade are at full valuations," said Vrajesh Bhandari, a portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital.

"Still, we do find pockets of value in Saudi not only in banks, but also in petrochemicals. Chemical product prices have been strong over the last quarter and that would show in earnings."

Strong quarterly earnings for National Bank of Kuwait lifted Kuwait's index .BKP , which also fuelled gains in other financial stocks.

National Bank of Kuwait posted a 16 percent rise in second-quarter net profit from a year earlier, boosting its share price by 0.6 percent. 

Kuwait Finance House  rose 1.5 percent and Gulf Bank climbed 1.7 percent.

Property and financial stocks lifted Abu Dhabi stocks, which ended 1.1 percent higher.

Aldar Properties  rose 2.4 percent and First Abu Dhabi Bank climbed 1.6 percent. Property stocks also rallied in Dubai, lifting the benchmark index by 0.7 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 1.1 percent to 8,418 points.

DUBAI

* The index closed 0.7 percent higher to 2,896 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose by 1.1 percent to 4,669 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 1.4 percent to 9,396 points.

KUWAIT

* The index rose 1.1 percent to 5,302 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index closed flat to 1,335 points.

OMAN

* The index was down 0.4 percent at 4,498 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 0.8 percent to 15,917 points.

(Editing by William Maclean) ((Saeed.azhar@thomsonreuters.com))