January 21, 2018 / 1:50 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most of region falls, Saudi retreats further from technical barrier

* Saudi’s Almarai falls; Q4 profit come at low end of estimates

* Most Dubai real estate developers fall

* Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC Distribution up after Goldman recommendation

* Qatar National Bank pulls down Doha

* Egypt’s Orascom Development rises on share split plan

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Most Middle Eastern stock markets fell on Sunday with Saudi Arabia pulling further away from a major resistance level, although a surge by fuel distributor ADNOC Distribution buoyed Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi index slipped 0.3 percent to 7,513 points, retreating from the July peak of 7,586 points.

Dairy company Almarai dropped 1.2 percent after reporting fourth-quarter net profit of 513 million riyals ($137 million), down from 536 million riyals a year ago and below forecasts of 549 million riyals by SICO Bahrain and 531 million riyals by NCB Capital.

It blamed a 2.6 percent decline in revenue on the loss of sales to Gulf and export countries, in an apparent reference to the embargo on Qatar.

Savola, Saudi Arabia’s largest food producer and a major shareholder in Almarai, slid 2.2 percent. Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co fell 1.6 percent after reporting a 14 percent decline in quarterly profit, as sales shrank slightly.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.5 percent as most property developers weakened, with DAMAC down 1.7 percent.

Union Properties, however, edged up 0.4 percent after saying it had sold its entire stake in district cooling firm Emicool to Dubai Investments, already the owner of the other 50 percent, for 500 million dirhams ($136 million). Dubai Investments edged down 0.4 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.2 percent on the back of a 3 percent gain by ADNOC Distribution to 2.73 dirhams. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs initiated the stock with a “buy” rating and a 12-month price target of 3.31 dirhams.

Qatar’s index dropped 0.6 percent as Qatar National Bank, the biggest lender, fell 1.4 percent. QNB’s loan growth is expected to fall back to between 7 and 9 percent in 2018 from around 12 percent in 2017, analysts said at the end of last week after an investor relations conference call with executives of the bank.

Egypt’s index fell 0.5 percent, but Orascom Development surged 3 percent after the board proposed a share split that would change the par value of the stock to 1 Egyptian pound from 5 pounds.

SAUDI ARABIA

* Index fell 0.3 percent to 7,513 points.

DUBAI

* Index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,512 points.

ABU DHABI

* Index rose 0.2 percent to 4,636 points.

QATAR

* Index slipped 0.6 percent to 9,145 points.

EGYPT

* Index fell 0.5 percent to 15,340 points.

KUWAIT

* Index dropped 0.3 percent to 6,620 points.

BAHRAIN

* Index rose 0.2 percent to 1,336 points.

OMAN

* Index fell 0.9 percent to 4,979 points. (Editing by John Stonestreet and Susan Fenton)

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