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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises but Saudi slides; foreigners sell in Egypt
January 8, 2017 / 1:24 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises but Saudi slides; foreigners sell in Egypt

* Dubai index rises above technical resistance

* Turnover balloons, much activity in low-priced stocks

* Nama Chemicals continues plunging in Saudi Arabia

* Builder Khodari up after winning government contract

* Foreign investors turn net sellers, by tiny margin, in Egypt

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets rose on Sunday on the back of firm oil prices and global equities, but profit-taking in sectors including petrochemicals pulled down Saudi Arabia.

Dubai’s index rose 1.8 percent to 3,692 points in the heaviest trading volume in nearly a month, which more than doubled from Thursday’s level.

The index climbed above technical resistance at the mid-December peak of 3,659 points; a second straight close above that level would confirm a break, leaving the next chart barrier at the October 2015 peak of 3,740 points.

Seven of the 10 most heavily traded issues were low-priced stocks - below 1 dirham - which local retail investors tend to favour. Two of the 10 were insurance firms, with Dubai Islamic Insurance jumping 4.6 percent and Islamic Arab Insurance adding 3.4 percent. For the past couple of weeks, some traders have been speculating there may be mergers in the insurance industry following last year’s news of a big Abu Dhabi banking merger.

Abu Dhabi’s index climbed 0.7 percent with cement firms leading the gains. Gulf Cement jumped 12.9 percent in very thin trade.

Qatar edged up 0.1 percent, supported by property firm United Development, up 0.9 percent. But Gulf Warehousing fell 1.2 percent despite recommending an annual cash dividend of 1.60 riyals per share, up slightly from 1.50 riyals in the previous year. It said net profit climbed 11 percent last year.

Saudi Arabia’s index fell 0.8 percent. A monthly Reuters poll of Middle East fund managers, conducted at the end of last month, found many believing Saudi stocks were fully valued after a strong rally in the past few months, and not intending to add to their portfolios in the next three months.

Petrochemical firm Saudi Kayan fell 1.1 percent and Nama Chemicals, which has lost about a third of its value this year after its accumulated losses reached over 75 percent of its capital, slid 8.1 percent.

However, builder Abdullah Abdul Mohsin al-Khodari and Sons rose 0.8 percent after saying it had secured a 69 million riyal ($18.4 million) contract from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The amount is small but Khodari, like other Saudi construction companies, suffered from a severe cut-back in state contract awards last year and the new contract may indicate money is flowing again.

In Egypt, the index climbed 0.5 percent although exchange data showed non-Arab investors turning net sellers of stocks, by a tiny margin, for the first time since the Egyptian pound was floated on Nov. 3.

Qalaa Holdings rose 3.6 percent after saying on Thursday that it was in talks with interested parties to divest its stake in Rift Valley Railways, one of its major overseas assets.

SUNDAY‘S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.8 percent to 7,139 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 1.8 percent to 3,692 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index added 0.7 percent to 4,634 points.

QATAR

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 10,726 points.

EGYPT

* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 12,891 points.

KUWAIT

* The index climbed 1.1 percent to 5,896 points.

OMAN

* The index was flat at 5,792 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 1,210 points.

Editing by Stephen Powell

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