Mideast Stocks: Bank dents Abu Dhabi as cement makers strengthen Saudi index

Most of 14 listed Saudi cement companies rise

  
Traders monitor the share prices at the Abu Dhabi stock market.

Traders monitor the share prices at the Abu Dhabi stock market.

REUTERS/Ravindranath

The Abu Dhabi stock market fell sharply on Tuesday, dragged down by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), while the Saudi index was lifted by its cement producers.

Abu Dhabi's index dropped 1.4 percent as First Abu Dhabi, the UAE's largest bank, shed 2.4 percent after reporting first-quarter results. The lender posted a rise in first-quarter profit but customer deposits and net interest margins fell while expenses rose. 

"Overall numbers were in line, though it would have been good to see a beat, as the stock trades at rich valuations," said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital said.

Bhandari said a 7 percent decline in net interest income was not expected.

"In general, we see this as an excuse for investors to cut market exposure before Ramadan," Bhandari added.

Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.3 percent, with Gulf General Cooperative Insurance jumping 7.1 percent to end as the top gainer after the company's board proposed a capital increase of 300 million riyals ($80 million) through a rights issue.

There were gains for 12 of 14 cement producers after Yamama Cement posted strong first-quarter results, driven by an increase in sales volumes and prices. Yamama Cement was up by 5.6 percent.

"We have had a positive view on the cement sector based on expectations of a rise in cement demand as construction picks up, especially in mega projects," Riyad Capital's Muhammad Faisal Potrik said, adding that he expects cement demand to rise in the second half.

Dubai's index added 0.3 percent to snap a five-day losing streak, partly lifted by a 2.1 percent gain in real estate company Emaar Properties and its Emaar Development business, which gained 0.5 percent.

Qatar's blue-chip index edged up by 0.2 percent, helped by Gulf International Services and Industries Qatar.

Drilling rig provider Gulf International increased 2.7 percent after posting higher first-quarter net profit, while Industries Qatar firmed by 1.4 percent.

The Egyptian index rose 1 percent, partly supported by largest lender Commercial International Bank (COMI) gaining 3.1 percent to touch its highest in nearly a year.

El Sewedy Electric increased 1.2 percent after a subsidiary signed a 445 million Egyptian pound ($25.9 million) contract to build a substation and transmission line.

($1 = 3.7501 riyals) ($1 = 17.1700 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman) ((Karina.Dsouza@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6373; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: karina.dsouza@thomsonreuters.com))

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