January 21, 2019 / 1:24 PM / 8 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Financials buoy Egypt, Saudi inches up on banks

    * Egypt's COMI continues to rise on capital increase
    * Abu Qir snaps five-day losing streak
    * Samba Financial rises on chairman appointment
    * DAMAC Properties continues to slide after BofA downgrade

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    Jan 21 (Reuters) - Egypt's blue-chip shares rose on Monday,
bolstered by financial stocks, while Saudi Arabia reversed early
losses as most of its banks gained. 
    Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.9 percent with its
largest bank, Commercial International Bank, gaining
2.2 percent. The bank has gained in the last few sessions after
its board decided to increase its authorised capital to 50
billion Egyptian pounds ($2.79 billion) from 20 billion pounds.
    State-owned Abu Qir Fertilizers added 2.2 percent
to snap a five-day losing streak. The stock had been sliding
after the government hired financial firms to manage the sale of
a stake in the company, Reuters had reported.
    Non-Arab foreign investors were the net buyers of Egyptian
blue-chip shares, followed by Arab investors, according to data
on the exchange website. 
    Saudi Arabia's index inched up 0.2 percent, with
National Commercial Bank, its biggest bank, increasing
1.8 percent.
    Samba Financial Group rose 3 percent after it
appointed Ammar Bin Abdul Wahid Al-Khudairy as its chairman.
    The Gulf's largest dairy company Almarai added 2.5
percent. It had plunged 6.1 percent in the last session after
reporting a 28 percent drop in its fourth-quarter profit.
    But petrochemical shares mostly fell, with the country's
largest listed company, Saudi Basic Industies,
dropping 1.3 percent, while Saudi Kayan slid 5.4
percent, despite posting a narrowed fourth-quarter net loss
after zakat and tax of 110.9 million riyals ($29.57 million)
from 220.3 million riyals a year ago.
    In Dubai, the index fell 0.6 percent with all its
real estate firms down. DAMAC Properties, which has
lost 23.2 percent so far this year, dropped 4.1 percent. Last
week, BofA Merrill Lynch downgraded DAMAC to "underperform" from
"neutral". BofA lowered its 2018 to 2020 earnings per share
forecast on DAMAC by an average of 47 percent, citing
expectations of weaker booked sales and gross margin.
    The emirate's biggest bank, Emirates NBD, shed 0.8
percent after three days of gains following a 10 percent rise in
fourth-quarter net profit.
    Qatar's index lost 0.4 percent with petrochemical
maker Industries Qatar slipping 0.8 percent; HSBC last
week downgraded the stock to "reduce" from "hold" and cut the
target price to 115 riyals from 125 riyals.
    The Abu Dhabi index was also down 0.4 percent with
First Abu Dhabi Bank, United Arab Emirates' largest
lender, sliding 0.7 percent.
 SAUDI       The index         was up 0.2 pct at 8,402
 ARABIA      points
 DUBAI       The index          lost 0.6 pct to 2,499 points
 QATAR       The index        lost 0.4 pct to 10,722 points
 ABU DHABI   The index        lost 0.4 pct at 4,956 points
 EGYPT       The index          gained 0.9 percent to 13,575
 KUWAIT      The index        was flat at 5,493 points
 OMAN        The index        fell 0.6 pct to 4,179 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        was up 0.2 pct at 1,350 points
 ($1 = 17.8900 Egyptian pounds)

($1 = 3.7504 riyals)

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru, editing by Larry
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