DUBAI, March 13 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf were mostly soft in early trade on Monday as crude oil prices languished near three-month lows, but strength in Dubai’s Shuaa Capital and GFH Financial supported that bourse.
Saudi Arabia’s index was down 0.2 percent after 40 minutes of trade as most petrochemical shares fell; heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries dropped 0.5 percent.
Bank Aljazira, which had surged its 10 percent daily limit on Sunday after announcing plans to increase its share capital through bonus shares, fell 1.0 percent.
Medical supplier Al Hammadi Co added 0.3 percent despite saying it plans not to distribute a cash dividend for 2016, intending instead to use the retained earnings to expand its operations.
Dubai’s index edged up 0.2 percent as Shuaa Capital extended Sunday’s 15 percent gain to add 7.0 percent in heavy trade.
The stock is reacting to news of Shuaa’s planned acquisition of a brokerage and another financial firm that are controlled by Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), which last November bought 48.36 percent of Shuaa.
Also, local news provider MEED quoted ADFG chief executive Jassim Alseddiqi as saying Shuaa was in talks with a larger regional financial institution for a potential merger in a deal that could be worth billions of dirhams. He gave no details, and Shuaa and ADFG did not respond to requests for comment.
GFH Financial, the most heavily traded stock in Dubai, jumped 7.0 percent. Shuaa bought 14 percent of Bahrain’s Khaleeji Commercial Bank, a subsidiary of GFH, last December for 9.6 million dinars ($25 million).
GFH has said it plans to list Khaleeji in Dubai and Shuaa’s new brokerage arm could expedite that listing. GFH and Khaleeji could also benefit from their ties with Shuaa in the event of a major merger involving Shuaa.
Qatar Gas Transport fell 3.2 percent as the stock went ex-dividend. The Qatari index was down 0.3 percent as a little over half of traded shares declined. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Toby Chopra)