MIDEAST STOCKS- Corporate news weakens Dubai and Saudi, Qatar jumps after budget

Corporate news pulled down stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

A trader monitors stock information at Dubai Financial Market, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

A trader monitors stock information at Dubai Financial Market, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image used for illustrative purpose.

DUBAI- Corporate news pulled down stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Dubai on Wednesday, while Abu Dhabi was supported by a strong new listing and Qatar surged after the release of the government's 2018 budget.

The Dubai index dropped 1.4 percent as Emaar Properties sank 6.2 percent to its lowest close since June, in its heaviest trade since June.

Emaar said it would pay a special dividend of four billion dirhams ($1.1 billion) related to its listing of Emaar Development - three billion dirhams next month and one billion after its annual general assembly in April.

That equates to a dividend of 0.56 dirham a share. The market had originally expected Emaar to distribute about one dirham per share, and expectations had then been revised to around 0.67 dirham based on the assumption that the entire proceeds of the 20 percent listing would be paid.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi edged up 0.1 percent with sentiment supported by a firm debut by the fuel distribution unit of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co after the market's first initial public offer in six years.

ADNOC Distribution opened at 2.90 dirhams against its IPO price of 2.50, and closed at 2.65. There had been concern about the debut because the initial pricing range of the IPO was lowered and Emaar Development had a weak debut in Dubai last month.

In Saudi Arabia, the index fell 0.4 percent as Saudi Electricity plunged 9.9 percent in its heaviest trade since June 2016.

The stock had climbed 3.5 percent on Tuesday in anticipation of the government announcing hikes in electricity tariffs, and after the close, the regulator revealed higher tariffs for residential and commercial users from Jan. 1.

But the company said it would pay the government a fee equivalent to the rise in tariffs, so there should be no positive impact on its profits.

The most heavily traded stock, real estate firm Dar Al Arkan , jumped 9.9 percent after falling for two days. It has soared since mid-November, when international index compiler MSCI said it was adding the stock to its Saudi Arabia Index.

Al Tayyar Travel , whose founder has been detained in Saudi Arabia's sweeping crackdown on corruption, edged down 0.4 percent. The company announced a transformation plan that includes new products such as insurance and holiday activities, and boosting reservations on electronic platforms.

Qatar's index gained 2.2 percent to its highest level since mid-October in the heaviest volume since June. It has been rebounding for four straight days from near six-year lows where it had languished for a month, depressed in part by the boycott of Qatar by four other Arab states.

Late on Tuesday the government released a 2018 state budget plan that includes a 2.4 percent rise in spending. It said it expected to award 29 billion riyals ($8.0 billion) of contracts to support growth in the private sector next year, part of a drive to diversify and strengthen the economy in the face of the boycott.

Real estate firm Ezdan Holding jumped 6.4 percent to its highest level since late September. After the close it said a shareholder, Abdullah Ahmed Taher, had filed a suit seeking to annul the shareholders' meetings which approved its decision earlier this year to go private - a decision which caused the stock to plunge.



* The index fell 0.4 percent to 7,094 points.


* The index dropped 1.4 percent to 3,404 points.


* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,384 points.


* The index surged 2.2 percent to 8,207 points.


* The index gained 0.4 percent to 14,651 points.


* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 6,238 points.


* The index was flat at 1,264 points.


* The index rose 0.3 percent to 5,066 points.

(Editing by William Maclean) ((andrew.torchia@thomsonreuters.com)(+9715 6681 7277)(Reuters Messaging: andrew.torchia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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