|23 May, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Oil price fall weighs on Saudi while blue chips gain in Egypt

Arabian Centres further slides on day-2 of trading

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, December 3, 2015.

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, December 3, 2015.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply on Thursday as banks and petrochemical shares dropped amid falling oil prices, while Egypt's blue-chip index closed higher.

Saudi's indexdropped 1.4% with 10 of its 11 banks trading lower. Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.7% and Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE fell 2.5%.

Oil prices dropped on Thursday, extending falls from the previous session amid growing U.S. crude inventories as low refinery runs and trade standoffs weigh on the demand outlook.

The index has lost 8.6% this month in a sell-off triggered by global trade disputes and regional geo-political tensions. The market, however, is still up 8.8% year-to-date driven higher mainly by foreign capital flows into Saudi stocks.

Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres, which debuted on Wednesday, dipped further by 2% to 24.5 riyals ($6.53) from its initial public offer price of 26 riyals.

Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.8% higher as Alexandria Mineral Oils jumped 5.6% after its board approved launching a study for the second phase of a heavy refining project to extract high economic-value products.

El Sewedy Electric gained 2.1%. On Tuesday, it partnered with General Authority For Suez Canal Economic Zone to establish a new company with issued capital of 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($59.49 million), in which the firm will own 49%.

Dubai's index rose for its third straight session, up 0.2%, rebounding from as much 1% loss earlier in the session, with most of real estate shares gaining.

Dubai's largest listed developer Emaar Properties rose 1.8%, while its unit Emaar Malls added 1.7%.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.6% with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, adding 0.6%.

J.P. Morgan retained an 'overweight' rating on the stock despite recent price volatility and said it preferred the bank over Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which edged up 0.1%. 

Dana Gas rose 2.9%. The stock has been gaining since Tuesday when the energy firm said it had started drilling operations at the Merak-1 offshore well in Egypt.

Qatar's index declined 0.3% with Qatar National Bank, the Middle East and Africa's largest lender, dropping 1.2% and Qatar Fuel losing 2.1%.

Companies on Qatar's exchange had in 2018 increased foreign ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set at 25%, drawing a flood of cash that helped to boost the main index by more than 20% last year.

The index has since cooled, falling about 5 percent since the start of the year on profit taking amid international political tensions.

($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 16.8100 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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