|19 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Saudi index slips, weighed down by banks and Aramco

Almarai drops on profit fall

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabian stocks closed lower on Sunday, pulled down by losses at banking and energy firms, while the indexes in Qatar and Dubai extended their gains to a straight seventh day.

Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.1%. Saudi Aramco weighted the index most with a 0.7% fall, extending losses to a third day running.

On Sunday, Al Rajhi Capital Research rated the Aramco stock "neutral" in line with most other brokerages and set a target price of 37.5 riyals ($10.00)per share.

JPMorgan was the first major brokerage to initiate coverage of Saudi Aramco with an "overweight" rating, setting a price target of 37 riyals per share and saying it sees scope for an increase in the energy giant's proposed $75 billion base dividend. 

Saudi British Bank dropped 2%, while dairy firm Almarai closed down 0.9% as its profit for the fourth-quarter declined by 15.9% after increases in selling, administration and general costs. 

Among the gainers was United Electronics which jumped 5.1%, its biggest intra-day rise since May 15, 2019. The company's said its fourth-quarter profit rose 14.6%.

The Qatari index closed up 0.1%, with Qatar National Bank gaining 0.3% and Qatar International Islamic Bank rising 0.8%.

Dubai's index rose 1.2%, buoyed by a 2.2% increase in its largest bank Emirates NBD and a 1.4% gain at Emaar Properties.

In Abu Dhabi, the index closed down 0.1%, snapping a six-session winning streak, with Emirates Telecommunications Group  slipping 0.4% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) dropping 0.6%

On Thursday, ADCB said its Islamic lending unit Al Hilal Bank had agreed to sell its Islamic insurance business and operations. 

Outside the Gulf, the Egyptian blue-chip indexrose 0.7%, supported by a 2.7% gain by Commercial International Bank Egypt.

On Thursday, Egypt's central bank left its overnight interest rates unchanged, while keeping its deposit rate steady at 12.25% and its lending rate at 13.25%

($1 = 3.7517 riyals)

(Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Pravin Char) ((Maqsood.Alam@thomsonreuters.com;))

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