September 10, 2018 / 8:21 AM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf outperforms emerging market slump, petchems boost Saudi

DUBAI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets mostly rose in early trade on Monday, outperforming a fresh slump in emerging markets globally, with petrochemical blue chips pushing up Saudi Arabia.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.1 percent. Gulf markets have not escaped the global downturn but many fund managers think that with Brent oil above $75 a barrel and given the region’s currency pegs, they can ride out the instability relatively comfortably.

Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, said last week’s losses in Gulf markets were “a technical correction which creates an indiscriminate sell-off”. The fundamental case for most stocks in Al Mal’s portfolio has not changed, he said.

The Saudi index climbed 0.5 percent in the first 45 minutes with top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries gaining 1.0 percent, Saudi Kayan adding 1.2 percent and Saudi Arabian Fertilizers up 4.6 percent.

However, Leejam Sports was subdued on its first day of trade, following the Saudi main board’s first initial public offer of shares this year.

Leejam was at 52.50 riyals, up 1.0 percent from its IPO price, after initially hitting a high of 54.50 riyals. IPO stocks in Saudi Arabia traditionally jump their 10 percent daily limits on their debuts, but exchange data shows Saudi individual investors — often responsible for chasing new issues higher — were heavy net sellers of stocks last week.

Trading volume in Leejam, which offered 15.715 million shares to institutional investors in its IPO, was moderate at around 800,000 shares in the first 45 minutes, suggesting institutions were not rushing to sell.

In Dubai, the index was flat as second-tier real estate developer Deyaar jumped 5.5 percent to 0.445 dirham in unusually heavy trade. It rose above the 100-day average, now 0.443 dirham, for the first time since March; the stock is up nearly 15 percent in the past three trading days.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index rose 0.8 percent as First Abu Dhabi Bank surged 2.1 percent. It fell last week as some investors sold to invest in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Union National Bank following news that the two were in merger talks.

The two banks continued rising on Monday morning, with ADCB up 1.6 percent and UNB climbing 3.8 percent.

Qatar’s index rose 0.7 percent, also boosted by banks; Qatar National Bank surged 1.7 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank added 1.8 percent. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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