October 10, 2016 / 8:11 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stabilises, Gulf moves sideways in early trade

DUBAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market stabilised early on Monday after a sharp fall on the previous day, while other Gulf stock markets largely moved sideways in quiet trade.

The Saudi stock index, which had tumbled 2.2 percent on Sunday as banking shares dropped because of concern about the impact of government austerity policies on their balance sheets, was flat after 45 minutes of trade on Monday. The banking sector index edged up marginally.

Qassim Cement dropped 3.2 percent after reporting a 29 percent year-on-year drop in third-quarter net profit, citing lower demand for cement as well as cost increases due to cuts in state subsidies for electricity and fuel.

But Saudi Basic Industries gained 0.9 percent after it and Saudi Arabia Fertilizers Co (SAFCO) said they had hired investment banks to advise on the potential sale of a stake in the Ibn Al-Baytar fertiliser company, a 50-50 joint venture between them. SAFCO rose 0.4 percent.

Dubai’s index was also flat. But the most heavily traded stock, builder Drake & Scull, surged 6.6 percent after saying it had appointed chief operating officer Wael Allan as its new chief executive, replacing Khaldoun Tabari, a major shareholder.

Drake & Scull’s chief financial officer, Kailash Sadangi, told Reuters in August that the company had asked advisers for proposals to review its business and find strategic investors; the change at the top of the company could clear the way for new investment and fresh action to stem its losses.

Qatar’s index edged up just 0.1 percent as Qatar National Bank lost 0.1 percent before the release of its third-quarter earnings later in the day, but Doha Bank added 1.2 percent. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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