|19 March, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Saudi eases back from multi-year closing high

On Tuesday, Saudi's index edged down 0.1% with Riyad Bank shedding 1%

Saudi Arabia's stock index edged down on Tuesday after closing at a near-four year high on Monday, which was its first day as a member of FTSE Russell's emerging-market index. Most other major Middle Eastern markets were mixed in muted trading.

Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9 percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and later this year will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion.

Saudi Arabia's listed companies could see holdings by foreign investors rise to 10 percent when shares are included in index providers MSCI and FTSE's emerging markets indices, Tadawul's Chief Executive told Reuters.

On Tuesday, Saudi's index edged down 0.1 percent with Riyad Bank shedding 1 percent and industrial investment firm Bawan Co losing 2.9 percent. Bawan swung to a full-year net loss after recording a goodwill impairment charge of 169.8 million riyals ($45.28 million).

Yanbu Cement slid 1.2 percent after posting a decline in its full-year net profit, citing lower sales volumes and average selling price.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.2 percent, rising for a third straight session with most gains coming from real estate shares.

DAMAC Properties increased 2.1 percent and Emaar Properties added 0.4 percent.

"We are selectively positive on UAE real estate" despite a challenging market in 2019, Arqaam Capital said, adding that a key catalyst for UAE's real estate are GCC investors rotating out of Saudi Arabia around the MSCI index events, as well as near-term dividend announcements.

The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.1 percent. Financial stocks hurt the index with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) , the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, dipping 0.4 percent.

Qatar will no longer permit FAB to provide services for new customers in Doha, its regulator said, amid a probe over alleged currency manipulation after the Gulf rift, Reuters reported earlier this week.

Qatar's index traded roughly flat with Middle East's second largest petrochemical maker, Industries Qatar, adding 0.5 percent and Qatar Navigation shedding 4 percent as it traded ex-dividend.

($1 = 0.7537 pounds)

($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

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

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