December 17, 2018 / 8:54 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems boost Saudi, telcos move in opposite directions

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose early on Monday, boosted by petrochemical shares, while Qatar fell as most of its banks slipped.

Oil prices were largely steady after falling 2 percent in the previous session, but remained under pressure amid weaker growth in major economies and concern about oversupply.

The Saudi Arabian index rose 0.6 percent in the first 90 minutes with Saudi Basic Industries adding 1.3 percent. Al Rajhi Bank gained 0.5 percent.

Saudi Telecom rose 4.0 percent to 91.20 riyals after it announced its dividend policy for the next three years; it will pay a minimum of 1 riyal per share each quarter, and an additional 2 riyals as an annual dividend for 2018. It has been paying 1 riyal per quarter in recent quarters.

Arqaam Capital rated the stock a “core buy” and raised its target price to 103 riyals.

But another telecommunications firm, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), was down 3.5 percent at 17.36 riyals, continuing to drop after disclosing a new system of royalty payments to the government on Sunday. Arqaam Capital downgraded the stock to “sell” from “hold” and cut its target to 16 riyals.

Al Khaleej Training and Education jumped 7.9 percent after it was awarded a 42.2 million riyal ($11.3 million) contract by the Ministry Of Labor and Social Development.

Qatar’s index lost 0.7 percent as Qatar Fuel dropped 2 percent and Industries Qatar declined 0.9 percent.

Recently listed Qatar Aluminium plunged 9.2 percent to 11.82 riyals, a day after rising 29 percent on its debut.

In Dubai, the index rebounded 0.5 percent from a slide of 1.6 percent in the last session, with construction firm Arabtec gaining 3.5 percent. Dubai Investments , which has been languishing at multi-year lows, added 3.1 percent. (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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