September 10, 2018 / 12:56 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf outperforms emerging market slump, late sales hit Saudi

* Weak debut for Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports

* Fawaz Alhokair drops after CEO dismissed

* Deyaar jumps above 100-day average in Dubai

* Big banks boost Abu Dhabi and Qatar

* Inflation data weighs on Egypt

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets mostly rose on Monday, outperforming emerging markets globally, though Saudi Arabia closed lower because of a wave of selling in the final hour.

MSCI’s emerging market index was down 0.9 percent. Gulf markets have been weakened by the global downturn but many fund managers think that with Brent oil above $75 a barrel and given the region’s currency pegs, they can ride out instability relatively comfortably.

Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, called last week’s losses in Gulf markets a technical correction. The fundamental case for most stocks in Al Mal’s portfolio had not changed.

The Saudi index spent much of the day higher but closed down 0.3 percent. Exchange data released late on Sunday showed foreign investors sold a net $67.7 million of Saudi stocks last week; it was the third straight week of selling, but outflows remain moderate compared to heavy inflows early this year.

Much of the index’s decline was due to a late drop by top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries, which ended 1.0 percent lower.

Saudi Arabian Fertilizers gained 6.2 percent to 78.60 riyals. It has been rising strongly since late August, when EFG Hermes upgraded the stock to a “buy” and lifted its price target to 77.0 riyals from 60.5.

Retailer Fawaz Alhokair dropped 3.5 percent after the company said Atul Singh had been dismissed with immediate effect, to be replaced by board member Faissal al-Jedaie. Its statement did not give a reason for the change.

Leejam Sports, which conducted this year’s first initial public offer of shares on the main market, fell 1.9 percent from its IPO price to 51.0 riyals.

IPO stocks in Saudi Arabia traditionally jump their 10 percent daily limits on their debuts, but Saudi individual investors — often responsible for chasing new issues higher — were heavy net sellers of stocks last week.

Trading volume in Leejam, which offered 15.715 million shares to institutional investors, was moderate at 1.92 million.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.2 percent as second-tier real estate developer Deyaar jumped 5.9 percent to 0.447 dirham in its heaviest trade since March. It rose above the 100-day average of 0.443 dirham for the first time since March, and is up 15 percent in the past three trading days.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index rose 1.4 percent as First Abu Dhabi Bank surged 3.2 percent. It fell last week as some investors sold to invest in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank following news that the two were in merger talks.

The two banks continued rising on Monday, with ADCB up 2.2 percent and UNB climbing 4.8 percent.

Qatar’s index rose 0.7 percent, also boosted by banks. Qatar National Bank surged 1.7 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank added 1.5 percent.

In Egypt, the index slipped 0.7 percent. The government said annual urban consumer inflation rose to 14.2 percent in August from 13.5 percent in July. London-based Capital Economics said this meant the central bank would probably leave interest rates unchanged, rather than cut them, at this month’s policy meeting.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index fell 0.3 percent to 7,706 points.

DUBAI * The index rose 0.2 percent to 2,849 points.

ABU DHABI * The index gained 1.4 percent to 4,986 points.

QATAR * The index added 1.2 percent to 9,890 points.

EGYPT * The index dropped 0.7 percent to 15,628 points.

KUWAIT * The index gained 0.2 percent to 5,337 points.

BAHRAIN * The index edged down 0.1 percent to 1,343 points.

OMAN * The index rose 0.7 percent to 4,486 points. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by John Stonestreet)

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