January 21, 2018 / 9:00 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf bourses mostly edge down in early trade

DUBAI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets mostly edged down on Sunday with Saudi Arabia pulling further away from a major resistance level, although a surge by fuel distributor ADNOC Distribution buoyed Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi index slipped 0.3 percent to 7,518 points in the first hour, pulling away from the July peak of 7,586 points.

Dairy company Almarai dropped 1.9 percent after reporting fourth-quarter net profit of 513 million riyals ($137 million), down from 536 million riyals a year ago and below forecasts of 549 million riyals by SICO Bahrain and 531 million riyals by NCB Capital.

It blamed a 2.6 percent decline in revenue on the loss of sales to Gulf and export countries, in an apparent reference to the embargo on Qatar.

Savola, Saudi Arabia’s largest food producer and a major shareholder in Almarai, slid 2.2 percent. Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co fell 1.6 percent after reporting a 14 percent decline in quarterly profit, as sales shrank slightly.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.3 percent as most property developers weakened, with DAMAC down 1.2 percent.

Union Properties, however, edged up 0.4 percent after saying it had sold its entire stake in district cooling firm Emicool to Dubai Investments, already the owner of the other 50 percent, for 500 million dirhams ($136 million). Dubai Investments was flat.

Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.3 percent on the back of a 2.6 percent gain by ADNOC Distribution to 2.72 dirhams. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs initiated the stock with a “buy” rating and a 12-month price target of 3.31 dirhams.

Qatar’s index dropped 0.4 percent as Qatar National Bank, the biggest lender, fell 1.2 percent. QNB’s loan growth is expected to fall back to between 7 and 9 percent in 2018 from around 12 percent in 2017, analysts said at the end of last week after an investor relations conference call with executives of the bank. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by John Stonestreet and Susan Fenton)

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