February 9, 2015 / 5:37 AM / 3 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets may consolidate as oil steadies

DUBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets may consolidate on Monday after oil prices steadied and some companies announced news that could disappoint investors.

Brent crude was up 0.3 percent at $57.96 per barrel by 0500 GMT as falling U.S. oil rig counts and signs of strong U.S. economic growth were balanced by a slump in Chinese imports, pointing to lower fuel demand in the world's biggest energy consumer.

Data published on Sunday showed China's trade performance slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3 percent from year-ago levels while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, far worse than analysts had expected.

Oil's rebound in the last two weeks has supported Gulf equities, but with the commodity stabilising, other factors, such as announcements of financial results and dividends, may take centre stage.

Dubai developer Damac Properties may come under pressure after its board proposed a 10 percent bonus share issue equivalent to 500 million dirhams ($136.1 million), or 10 percent of capital, instead of a cash dividend for 2014.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast a payout of 0.14 dirham, and the stock has shot up 73 percent this month.

In Kuwait, investors in shares in companies owned by the Kharafi family may be disappointed after a committee in the public works ministry recommended that all bids to build a new terminal at the country's international airport be rejected.

In November, the tender committee for the project said a consortium of Kuwait's Kharafi National and Turkey's Limak Holding had submitted the lowest bid for the contract, worth 1.386 billion dinars ($4.78 billion).

Among companies owned by the Kharafi family are National Industries Group, Kuwait Cement and Kuwait Financial Centre.

On a more positive note, Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the Gulf State's largest sharia-compliant bank by assets, reported a 35.8 percent jump in fourth-quarter net profit on Monday, according to Reuters calculations.

KFH's net profit for the three months to the end of December was 36.4 million dinars, while Arqaam Capital had forecast 26.0 million dinars.

In Saudi Arabia, Saudi Kayan Petrochemicals Co may extend gains after surging its daily 10 percent limit on Sunday when the kingdom's oil ministry allocated more natural gas to the firm, allowing it to expand ethylene production at its petrochemical complex in Jubail.

On global markets, Asian shares are down on the weak Chinese data, which eclipsed a strong U.S. jobs report. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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