February 19, 2018 / 2:53 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf sluggish as Waha cuts dividend; big bank boosts Egypt

* Oil in low $60s dampens liquidity in Gulf

* Dubai’s Aramex pulls back after post-earnings surge

* Saudi’s Mobily rebounds after slide

* Saudi Industrial Export jumps daily limit for fourth day

* Egypt’s Al Ezz Dekheila Steel continues spectacular rally

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were sluggish on Monday, with a dividend cut pulling down major Abu Dhabi-listed financial firm Waha Capital, but Egypt’s bourse rose on the back of a gain by its biggest bank.

Equities in the Gulf rallied along with oil late last year and Saudi Arabia saw its largest-ever inflow of equity funds last month. But Brent oil’s retreat from above $70 a barrel since late January has visibly reduced liquidity in many bourses.

In a report at the end of last week, JP Morgan Cazenove said that with oil at $70, it had been on the point of upgrading its assessment of regional markets to “overweight”, but had decided not to after oil fell back.

“$63 ain’t $70,” JP Morgan said, adding: “Lower oil increases near-term doubts.”

The Abu Dhabi index edged down 0.1 percent as Waha , which had been trading near 10-month highs, pulled back 4.1 percent. It proposed a 2017 cash dividend of 15 percent, down from 20 percent for 2016.

Dubai edged up 0.2 percent as DAMAC Properties gained 1.8 percent. But courier Aramex, which had surged in the last few days on strong fourth-quarter earnings, pulled back 1.3 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s index added 0.3 percent as telecommunications firm Mobily, dragged down in the last several days by weak fourth-quarter earnings, rebounded 4.9 percent.

Saudi Industrial Export, which deals in bulk commodities and chemicals, jumped its 10 percent daily limit for a fourth day in row, to 222.60 riyals.

The stock has been massively volatile in recent years, plunging from a peak of above 1,000 riyals hit in 2013, but the company could play a role in an export boom which the government hopes to engineer as part of economic reforms.

Qatar’s index rose 0.3 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical, the most heavily traded stock, jumped 5.0 percent. Late last week the company reported a slight rise in annual profit and a hike in its dividend to 0.7 riyal per share from 0.6 riyal.

In Egypt, the index climbed 0.8 percent as Commercial International Bank added 1.1 percent. Al Ezz Dekheila Steel, which has doubled in price since November, partly because of improving prospects for the Egyptian economy, surged a further 10 percent.


* Index rose 0.3 percent to 7,528 points.


* Index gained 0.2 percent to 3,298 points.


* Index edged down 0.1 percent to 4,579 points.


* The index rose 0.3 percent to 9,107 points.


* Index climbed 0.8 percent to 15,158 points.


* Index fell 0.2 percent to 6,711 points.


* Index was flat at 1,333 points.


* Index dropped 0.1 percent to 5,008 points. (Editing by Jon Boyle)

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