February 27, 2018 / 8:00 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves narrowly but Vodafone Qatar soars on earnings, licence news

DUBAI, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets mostly moved narrowly in early trade on Tuesday although Vodafone Qatar soared in response to a stream of positive news.

Vodafone Qatar, by far the most heavily traded stock in its market, jumped 9.1 percent. It announced that its nine-month net loss narrowed 32 percent, and that its telecommunications licence had been extended by 40 years, which would cut annual amortisation costs sharply.

In addition, the company plans to reduce its share capital to 4.227 billion riyals from 8.454 billion riyals, while Vodafone will sell its stake in the firm to Qatar Foundation, whose direct and indirect stake in Vodafone Qatar will rise to 50 percent from 27.05 percent.

The Qatari stock index was flat, however, as Qatar Navigation dropped 2.9 percent after reporting a 34 percent fall in annual net profit. Qatar Electricity and Qater tumbled 4.2 percent as it went ex-dividend.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged up 0.1 percent in the first 45 minutes as National Industrialisation Co (Tasnee) , the most heavily traded stock, jumped 7.1 percent after reporting that annual net profit soared to 716.2 million riyals ($195.1 million) from 101.4 million riyals.

It also said one of its units had signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the potential of establishing an aircraft precision machining facility in Saudi Arabia - a strategic project that is expected to receive government backing.

Dubai’s index fell 0.3 percent as Shuaa Capital fell back 1.8 percent. The stock had gained 1.8 percent on Monday after the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, Jassim Alseddiqi, was elected chairman of GFH Financial; Shuaa is an affiliate of ADFG, and GFH held inconclusive merger talks with Shuaa last year.

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

GFH shares pulled back 1.4 percent after surging 6.6 percent on Monday. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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