July 11, 2017 / 5:37 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may move sideways as investors await Fed testimony

DUBAI, July 11 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf may trade sideways on Tuesday as investors around the world awaited testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues on when the central bank would tighten U.S. monetary policy.

Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress will be on Wednesday and Thursday. San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said on Tuesday in Sydney that it was a reasonable view to expect one more rate hike this year, and his own view was to start adjusting the central bank’s balance sheet in the next few months.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.6 percent on Tuesday morning. Brent crude futures were at $47.07 per barrel at 0502 GMT, up 0.4 percent, from their last close.

Banking shares, which have been strong since the start of the week, may continue to see some buying interest as another hike in interest rates may be net positive on their earnings.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

In Riyadh, shares of Saudi Arabian Mining (Ma’aden) may be bid up after saying it has started trial operations at its subsidiary Ma’aden Waad Al Shamal Phosphate Company.

“During initial production, MWSPC will gradually ramp-up until it reaches the 3 million tonnes production capacity. The impact on earnings will be recognised following the declaration of commercial production,” Ma’aden said in a statement.

Shares of phone and home appliance retailer United Electronics (Extra) may extend on the previous day’s strong gains after bullish comments from the company’s chief executive.

The firms’s chief executive Mohamed Fahmy told financial news website, Argaam, late on Monday that the company aims to boost sales through its online portal, and strengthen partnerships with suppliers and brands offering the latest technologies and products.

Extra reported a near quadrupling in its second quarter net profit and a 15 percent rise in sales for the period.

In Kuwait, the country’s biggest lender National Bank of Kuwait on Tuesday posted a 9.3 percent rise in first half net profit from a year earlier. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Saeed Azhar)

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