February 1, 2018 / 2:23 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly firm but surprise Q4 loss hits Saudi's Ma'aden

* Ma’aden gives no reason for quarterly loss

* Saudi cement shares still buoyed by NEOM speculation

* NEOM hopes also boost Tabuk Agricultural Development

* Dubai’s Gulf Navigation surges before rights issue

* Qatar Commercial Bank rises after outlining Turkey plan

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly firm on Thursday but blue chip Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) fell in response to a surprise fourth-quarter loss.

The Saudi index edged up 0.1 percent with gainers outnumbering advancers by 100 to 76. Ma’aden slipped 4.9 percent to 53.80 riyals in its heaviest trade since November, although it closed well off the day’s low of 52.70 riyals.

It posted a net profit of 714.84 million riyals ($190.6 million) in 2017 versus a loss of 10.74 million riyals in 2016; it did not publish fourth-quarter earnings, but Reuters calculations show it made quarterly loss of 104.74 million riyals versus a year-ago profit of 15.67 million riyals.

SICO Bahrain had projected a quarterly profit of 374 million riyals. Ma’aden’s earnings statement gave no reason for the fourth-quarter loss and company officials could not be reached for comment.

Cement shares remained strong and actively traded after a media report earlier this week said the government had started awarding contracts to build its huge NEOM business zone project in the northwest of the country.

Tabuk Cement, which is located near the site of NEOM, rose 1.7 percent while Tabuk Agricultural Development , also located nearby, gained 1.0 percent in its heaviest trade for a month.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.5 percent as shipper Gulf Navigation, which has been trading at 18-month lows, surged 7.9 percent after saying it had appointed a bookrunner to raise its capital to 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) through a rights issue this month.

Abu Dhabi’s index gained 0.3 percent and Qatar edged up 0.03 percent as Qatar Commercial Bank rose 1.6 after its chief executive said on Wednesday that it would deploy more capital to Turkey to benefit from closer political ties with that country.


* Index edged up 0.1 percent to 7,656 points.


* Index rose 0.5 percent to 3,412 points.


* Index gained 0.3 percent to 4,614 points.


* Index edged up 0.03 percent to 9,207 points.


* Index rose 0.3 percent to 15,089 points.


* Index edged down 0.04 percent to 6,685 points.


* Index rose 0.5 percent to 1,358 points.


* Index climbed 0.7 percent to 5,035 points.

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