February 14, 2018 / 5:42 AM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Few positives for Gulf, GFH cuts dividend

DUBAI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets appear to have few fresh positives on Wednesday and may consolidate in sluggish trade, with Dubai dampened by earnings and dividend news from several companies.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is up 0.7 percent but trading is tentative ahead of U.S. inflation news later in the day, while Brent oil is little changed at $62.81 a barrel.

Dubai-listed GFH Financial reported that annual net profit roughly halved, and its board cut the proposed annual cash dividend to 8.7 percent from the previous year’s 10 percent.

Meanwhile, DAMAC Properties reported a 25 percent decline in annual profit, while keeping its dividend flat.

Builder Arabtec’s swing to an annual net profit of 123.1 million dirhams ($33.5 million) from a year-earlier loss of 3.41 billion dirhams was roughly in line with expectations, as was Drake & Scull’s swing to a very small fourth-quarter profit from a big third-quarter loss.

In Qatar, however, Industries Qatar may attract interest after reporting annual net profit of 3.32 billion riyals ($912 million), up from 2.96 billion riyals in 2016, and lifting its proposed annual cash dividend back to 5 riyals per share from 4 riyals. Reuters calculations suggested fourth-quarter profit jumped to 960 million riyals from 230 million riyals. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

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