February 26, 2018 / 2:07 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH jumps in Dubai, zakat worries weigh on Saudi banks again

* CEO of Abu Dhabi Financial Group elected chairman of GFH

* Shuaa Capital rises, but chairman says merger not now on cards

* Nine of 12 Saudi banks fall

* Ex-dividend stocks, QNB below 100-day average hit Qatar

* Egypt’s Palm Hills rises on 2018 profit target

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A leap by shares in GFH Financial enlivened an otherwise dull Dubai stock market on Monday, while bank stocks dragged on Saudi Arabia’s index for a second straight day because of concern about their Islamic tax liabilities.

The Dubai index was flat but GFH climbed 6.6 percent and accounted for over a third of market volume after saying Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), had been elected chairman of its board.

The company did not explain the development but it could point to closer cooperation between GFH and ADFG, which owns nearly half of Shuaa Capital, whose shares gained 1.8 percent. GFH and Shuaa held merger discussions last year but the talks were called off in June.

Alseddiqi told Al Arabiya television on Monday that after last year’s talks failed between GFH and Shuaa to produce a result, “Currently we at GFH are looking at other acquisitions.”

Saudi Arabia’s index fell 0.3 percent as nine of 12 bank stocks fell, with Al Rajhi - which foreign funds have been pouring into in recent weeks in anticipation of Saudi Arabia joining emerging market indexes - pulling back 1.3 percent.

Reuters reported on Thursday about rising Islamic tax liabilities at Saudi banks. In recent weeks, several banks have disclosed the government is seeking additional zakat payments from them going back as far as 2002. Analysts expect more banks to disclose zakat demands in coming weeks.

Qatar’s index fell 1.0 percent with Qatar National Cement plunging 7.5 percent and Qatar Insurance losing 6.2 percent as both went ex-dividend.

In addition Qatar National Bank, the largest lender, slid 3.1 percent. The stock closed below its 100-day average, which had been acting as support, for the first time since mid-December - a negative technical signal.

In Egypt, Palm Hills Development gained 3.2 percent after reporting that fourth-quarter consolidated net profit after tax and minority interests jumped 44 percent to 338.6 million Egyptian pounds ($19.2 million). It said it was targeting net profit of over 800 million pounds this year.

Kuwait’s market was closed for a public holiday.

SAUDI ARABIA

* Index fell 0.3 percent to 7,472 points.

DUBAI

* Index was flat at 3,307 points.

ABU DHABI

* Index rose 0.3 percent to 4,593 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 8,993 points.

EGYPT

* Index edged down 0.1 percent to 15,454 points.

BAHRAIN

* Index gained 0.7 percent to 1,371 points.

OMAN

* Index added 0.6 percent to 4,985 points.

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