April 2, 2017 / 5:57 AM / 9 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf likley to start Q2 on weak footing, thin trade

DUBAI, April 2 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf will likely start the second quarter on Sunday on a weak footing, after crude oil prices traded within a narrow range and global shares fell on profit taking.

Brent futures settled at $52.83 on Friday, losing around 7 percent in the first quarter, the largest quarterly loss since late 2015.

World stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index closed down 0.4 percent on Friday, after gaining 6.4 percent in the quarter. The MSCI emerging markets index dropped 1.1 percent on Friday but still had an 11.1 percent increase in the quarter.

The first quarter performance was a mixed bag for Gulf oil-exporting countries.

Kuwait’s index outperformed its regional peers by a very large margin, up 22 percent for the period, while Dubai and Saudi Arabia’s benchmarks were down 1.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

A Dubai-based trader said upcoming first quarter results “might shake things up” for the market in April, after weak performances and low trading volume last month.

Shares of Saudi real-estate developer Jabal Omar may find some buying interest after the company said that one of its Mecca hotels started operations.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group may fall after the company said its Saudi Chevron Phillips project would undergo 35 days of maintenance from April 1. The financial impact will be reflected in the second quarter results.

On Sunday, ordinary shares of the new combined entity between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi will commence trading under the name NBAD. Shares of First Gulf Bank have been delisted. The merger was done by way of a share swap.

The new bank said in a statement that 5.64 billion new NBAD shares have been issued to those shareholders of FGB that appeared on the share registry immediately before Thursday. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Randy Fabi)

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