April 17, 2017 / 5:51 AM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks may bounce on Q1 beat, Mubadala plan aid Eshraq

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DUBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - Banking shares in Saudi Arabia may outperform on Monday after another bank reported earnings that were ahead of expectations, while Abu Dhabi real estate firm Eshraq could get a boost from a plan to tie up with state fund Mubadala.

Riyad Bank reported a 10.8 percent fall in first-quarter net profit to 1.05 billion riyals ($280 million) on higher impairment charges for credit losses, but still beat the average forecast of three analysts of 876.5 million riyals.

Riyad is the third Saudi bank to report earnings that topped expectations. On Sunday, Saudi banking shares were the main drag on the index on news that U.S. insurers had filed a lawsuit against Al Rajhi Bank and National Commercial Bank over the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the kneejerk reaction to that news may fade.

In Abu Dhabi, loss-making real estate developer Eshraq Properties, whose shares came under pressure last week on news that the emirate's property prices were softening, may attract interest after Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala said it was considering forming a venture with Eshraq.

The proposed venture would develop plots of land in Abu Dhabi owned by Mubadala on Al Maryah Island, where the new financial free free zone is located, and by Eshraq on Al Reem Island.

In Dubai, loss-making builder Arabtec said it had hired a new chief financial officer, Peter Pollard, who would oversee the company's recapitalisation programme. At a shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Arabtec will seek investor approval for its 1.5 billion dirham ($408 million) rights issue.

Shares in the builder are down 38 percent since Jan. 1, greatly underperforming the local index's 2.2 percent drop.

Global markets look set to offer little guidance to Gulf bourses, with S&P 500 mini futures edging down near six-week lows and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.1 percent in holiday-thinned trade. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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