October 9, 2016 / 8:46 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks drag Saudi down, rest of region sluggish

DUBAI, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Banking shares dragged Saudi Arabian stocks lower in early trade on Sunday while markets in the rest of the region moved little as investors readied for third-quarter corporate earnings announcements.

The Saudi stock index fell 0.5 percent in the first 75 minutes as the banking index dropped 0.9 percent.

The central bank has told commercial banks to postpone for a month receiving payments on consumer loans to customers whose incomes have been hit by cuts to public sector allowances, the Okaz newspaper reported on Sunday, citing unnamed sources.

Central bank officials were not available to comment.

Telecommunications firm Zain Saudi fell 2.7 percent, continuing a pull-back after surging early last week on hopes it would benefit from deregulation of the sector.

Retailer Jarir Marketing climbed 3.1 percent after it reported a net profit of 220 million riyals ($58.7 million) for the three months to Sept. 30, up from 218.5 million riyals a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted 200.6 million riyals.

Dairy company Almarai gained 1.4 percent after reporting a 10 percent increase in third-quarter net profit to 654.6 million riyals. Analysts had forecast 627.8 million.

Dubai’s index was flat. The most heavily traded stock, DXBE Entertainments, climbed 1.3 percent before it opens theme park facilities at the end of this month.

Abu Dhabi’s index dropped 0.5 percent as Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank sank 1.4 percent, while Qatar was flat amid a 3.1 percent slide in Qatar Islamic Insurance .

In Egypt, the index rose 0.5 percent after a senior International Monetary Fund official said the IMF’s initial loan payment to Egypt would be about $2.5 billion and that he hoped to secure board approval for a $12 billion loan programme within the next month.

El Saeed Contracting and Real Estate jumped 4.7 percent to 0.90 Egyptian pounds after it said it was buying 17 million treasury shares at 0.96 pounds per share.

Investment firm Qalaa Holdings dropped 4.8 percent after reporting a sharply wider quarterly net loss. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by John Stonestreet)

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