|20 May, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Saudi slides on blue-chip weakness, Egypt hit by sell-off

Zahrat Al Waha, Leejam Sports fall after trading ex-dividend

Image used for illustrative purpose. A broker monitors stock prices on a screen at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh September 5, 2013.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A broker monitors stock prices on a screen at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh September 5, 2013.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabia's stock market slipped on Monday as investors cut positions in blue-chip stocks amid lingering uncertainty from regional tensions, while a wide sell-off pulled down Egypt's blue-chip share index.

Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.7%, pressured by weakness in key banking and petrochemical shares. Al Rajhi Bank fell 0.7% and Saudi Basic Industrieswas off by 1.3%.

Saudi Arabia's central bank said on Sunday it had fined 16 financial institutions, including Al Rajhi Bank, for violating principles of responsible finance. 

Zahrat Al Waha For Trading and Leejam Sports Co dropped 3.7% and 0.8% respectively. Shares of both the companies traded ex-dividend.

The Saudi index has been trading choppy in the last week, gaining on MSCI's decision to include MSCI Saudi Arabia in its emerging markets index but hurt by geopolitical tensions between Iran and the United States.

"Under the current market scenario, Saudi stocks have been lower due to underperformance in real estate, hotel and tourism, and agriculture and food production sectors," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments.

"The country's proximity to the escalating tensions between Iran and U.S. has weighed down on sentiment, with similar scenarios across the region including the UAE," added Kapadia.

Egypt's blue-chip index  was down 1%, losing for a fourth straight day, with 23 of its 30 stocks sliding. El Sewedy Electric fell 3.1% and Commercial International Bank slid 0.6%.

Sixth Of October Development and Investment fell 3.2% after the real estate developer reported a standalone net loss in its first-quarter compared to a profit a year earlier.

Qatar's index was up 0.3% with Gulf International ServicesGISS.QA and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co rising 10% each.

Abu Dhabi's index ended flat. Axa Green Crescent Insurance Co dropped 10% and Gulf Medical Projects Co dipped 3.3%. The latter posted a 28.3% fall in its net profit for the first quarter.

The Dubai index edged 0.3% lower, pressured by its financial stocks. Commercial Bank of Dubaidropped 8.8% while Amlak Finance dropped 5.2%.

The index has dipped 0.7% this year, with a 9.2% fall since the beginning of May amid low trading during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and rising geopolitical tensions.

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne) ((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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