February 1, 2018 / 8:12 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves sideways early on, Ma'aden slips on Q4 loss

DUBAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets generally moved sideways in early trade on Thursday as blue chip Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) fell in response to a surprise fourth-quarter loss.

The Saudi index edged up 0.2 percent with gainers outnumbering advancers by a ratio of two to one, but Ma’aden slipped 3.5 percent.

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 could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tabuk Cement, which had jumped its 10 percent daily limit on Wednesday after a media report said the government had started awarding contracts for its huge NEOM business zone project in the northwest of the country, near where Tabuk is located, fell back 3.0 percent.

But another company located nearby, Tabuk Agricultural Development, rose 1.3 percent in unusually heavy trade.

Saudi banks were mostly strong with Al Rajhi Bank climbing 1.6 percent.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.2 percent as Emaar Properties, which had been weak in the last several days, rebounded 0.8 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s index was flat and Qatar edged down 0.1 percent, but Qatar Commercial Bank rose 1.6 percent after its chief executive said on Wednesday that it would deploy more capital to Turkey to benefit from closer political ties with that country. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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