Mideast Stocks: Gulf shares dip as Fed hints no further rate cuts

Abu Dhabi suffers biggest one-day loss in over two months

  
Investors speak in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Investors speak in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Stringer

Major Gulf stock markets fell on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25 basis points but, significantly, signalled the move may not mark the beginning of a long easing cycle.

Markets had been looking for the Fed to signal more cuts were coming.

Central banks in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar followed the move, cutting their rates by the same degree. Their currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar and they follow the Fed on interest rate moves.

Banking shares were hard hit as the rate cuts are expected to take a toll on their margins.

Saudi's index was down 0.8%, with Samba Financial Group slumping 4.3% to its lowest level since Jan. 2, after it became the first lender to report a fall in second-quarter profit, which dived nearly 25% as operating expenses mounted.

Al Rajhi Bank, which earlier gained on robust earnings, fell 1.7%.

Analysts expect rate cuts to hurt the margins of Saudi banks, which made record profits of around 50 billion riyals ($13.3 bln) in 2018 following several interest hikes over the past few years. 

Elsewhere Saudi's biggest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Co was down 0.9% after earlier this week reporting its lowest quarterly profit since late 2009.

In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 1.7% in its biggest single-day loss since mid-May, dragged down by a 1.8% fall in the market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank, and a 1% fall in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

ADCB earlier this week reported an 11% drop in second-quarter profit in its first combined pro-forma financials after it merged with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank earlier this year. 

Qatar's index was down 1% as the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank shed 1% and Qatar Islamic Bank lost 2%.

Dubai's index was fell 0.6%, with Emirates NBD Bank slipping 0.4%.

Property shares dragged the index the most. Blue-chip developer Emaar PropertiesEMAR.DU traded 1.5% lower after surging in recent sessions following a large deal in China.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index defied the downward trend and closed 0.9% higher. Its largest lender Commercial International Bank acted as the biggest boost for the index, rising 2.3%.

(Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by David Holmes) ((shakeel.ahmad.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;))


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