|29 May, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Profit-taking, global stock slide weigh on Saudi stocks

Emaar weighs on Dubai

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabian stocks dropped on Wednesday as falling oil prices and weak global sentiment pulled down banking shares on the market's first of trading as a member of the MSCI emerging markets index.

Some investors also cashed in their holdings ahead of the long Eid Holiday in the next week.

Thirty Saudi-listed securities were added to MSCI's index after the close of trading on Tuesday, representing an aggregate weight of 1.42% in the Emerging Markets Index.

Saudi's index  fell 1.6%, with Riyad Bank 1010.SE down 3.6% and Banque Saudi Fransi  sliding 5.4%.

Oil prices fell nearly 3% on Wednesday as China signaled it would use rare earths in its trade war with the United States, stoking concerns that an ongoing stand-off could hurt crude demand. 

"Sentiment is weak on geopolitical and global economic noise," said a Saudi-based analyst at one brokerage.

The index eased back from a seven-month high, driven by foreign investors stepping in during the extended closing auction in the last session.

"Yesterday was the MSCI event, whereby Saudi stocks were included in MSCI EM Index leading to significant traded value in the auction period and increase in index levels," said Devassy Pritish, head of equity research at Al Rajhi Capital.

"So, the decline today is related to cooling off of this event," Pritish added.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.6%, led by the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, which rebounded 3.3% to 14.3 dirhams.

The stock hit a record high of 17 dirhams in the second half of April following a foreign ownership limit hike to 40% from 25%.

But the lender has seen cooling since then, under pressure from the global trade dispute and geopolitical worries, and as MSCI retained its foreign inclusion factor at 25%, disregarding the foreign ownership limit rise.

Qatar's index closed 0.4% higher, as gains in banks offset losses in other sectors. Qatar National Bank was up 3.8% while Qatar Commercial Bank climbed 3.4%.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.3%, mostly pulled down by Emaar Group companies. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shed 1.1%, while its units Emaar Malls and Emaar Development fell 2.1% and 2.3% respectively.

Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.4%, with El Sewedy Electric losing 2.8% after on Tuesday reporting a near 30% drop in the first-quarter profit.

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

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