August 21, 2019 / 1:40 PM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most major Gulf markets fall, banks weigh on Saudi index

    * Ten of 11 Saudi banks fall
    * Emaar Misr continue losses on lawsuit
    * Julphar falls for second day on drug recall
    * Savola drops on lower second-quarter profit
    * Qatar ends winning streak

    By Maqsood Alam 
    Aug 21 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Wednesday, with
Saudi banking shares pushing that index down the most, amid rising regional
geopolitical tensions and ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve events.
    Tensions in the Middle East remained in focus after the United States said
it would take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker sailing in the
Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of U.S. sanctions.

    Adding to the tension was Australia agreeing to join a U.S.-led mission to
protect Gulf shipping. Iran denounces the effort and insists countries in the
region can protect waterways and work towards signing a non-aggression pact.

    Elsewhere, focus also shifted to the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's
most recent meeting, due on Wednesday, given the currencies of Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates and Qatar are pegged to the U.S. dollar.
    In Saudi Arabia the index closed 0.9% lower with Al Rajhi Bank
 declining 1.3% and Riyad Bank losing 1.5%.
    The Middle East's largest index was also hit by disappointment over some
corporate earnings. Tabuk Agricultural Development lost 5.3% after it
swung to a second-quarter loss, while Saudi Fisheries shed 1.5% as its
losses widened in the same period.
    Saudi Arabia's largest food products company, Savola Group, closed
2.5% down after it reported a 21.7% decrease in second-quarter profit. 

    Walaa Cooperative Insurance, which is in merger talks with Metlife
AIG ANB, shed 2% after EFG Hermes cut its target price to 11 riyals
from 20.8 riyals.  
    In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 0.6% with the United Arab Emirates'
largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank slipping 0.4%.
    Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) lost a further 7% a
day after it plunged 9.8%. On Tuesday, the firm said that it recalled a single
batch of its Laxocodyl suppository over a labelling error.
    Egypt's blue-chip index decreased 0.5%, led by a 0.5% fall in its
largest lender Commercial International Bank.
    Emaar Misr plunged 5.7% extending its losses from previous session
following a lawsuit filed by an Egyptian businessman against the developer
claiming part of the land at the Marassi project.
    Qatar's index slid 0.2% snapping a three-session winning streak.
Petrochemical maker Industries Qatar dropped 2.3% and Barwa Real
Estate lost 1.5%.
    The index has been benefiting since the central bank said last week Qatari
economic growth would accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of
stable oil prices and continued strong exports.
    Dubai's index edged up 0.1% as Emirates NBD gained 1.3%
and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications increased 1.8%. 
    
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         fell 0.9% to 8,509 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        lost 0.6% to 5,041 points
 DUBAI         The index          edged up 0.1% to 2,790 points
 QATAR         The index        was down 0.2% at 9,877 points
 EGYPT         The index          slipped 0.5 % to 14,357 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        was down 0.2% at 1,532 points
 OMAN          The index        rose 1% to 3,929 points
 KUWAIT        The index        slid 0.2% at 6,610 points
 
 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru
Editing by Frances Kerry)
  
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