February 28, 2018 / 8:47 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks still weak in Saudi, ex-dividends drag down Qatar

DUBAI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Major Gulf stock markets were mostly lower in early trade on Wednesday with Saudi banks dropping for a fourth straight day, partly because of concern about the government’s move to retroactively increase their Islamic tax liabilities.

The Saudi index fell 0.7 percent in the first hour with all 12 banking stocks declining. Al Rajhi Bank slipped 1.3 percent.

But National Industrialisation (Tasnee), which had jumped 9.9 percent on Tuesday after reporting an annual net profit up soared about seven-fold, added a further 4.5 percent and was the market’s most traded stock.

Insurer Malath surged 6.3 percent after saying it had signed insurance agreements with Abdullatif Alissa Group Holding whose annual premiums would exceed 10 percent of Malath’s 2017 sales.

Dubai’s index fell 0.4 percent as real estate blue chip Emaar Properties dropped 1.1 percent

Qatar’s index fell 1.4 percent, largely on a 7.2 percent plunge by Barwa Real Estate and a 5.9 percent slide by Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan as both stocks went ex-dividend.

Dlala Brokerage fell 6.9 percent despite reporting its annual net profit had more than quadrupled after its board recommended not distributing a dividend.

But Vodafone Qatar, which had jumped its 10 percent daily limit on Tuesday in response to positive earnings and licensing news, surged a further 8.2 percent and was the most traded stock. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by Jason Neely)

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