February 11, 2018 / 9:06 AM / in 6 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems drag down Saudi early on, rest of Gulf fares better

DUBAI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Petrochemical shares pulled down Saudi Arabia’s stock index in early trade on Sunday but most Gulf markets moved little in response to the latest volatility in global bourses and oil prices at the end of last week.

The Saudi index sank 0.9 percent in the first 90 minutes as all 14 petrochemical shares fell, after Brent crude , which two weeks ago was trading around $70 a barrel, slipped more than 3 percent on Friday to $62.79, its lowest level since late December.

Al Tayyar Travel plunged 6.8 percent after reporting annual net profit shrank to 497 million riyals ($132.5 million) from 814 million riyals. It made 480 million riyals in first nine months, implying fourth-quarter profit of just 17 million riyals, far below NCB Capital’s prediction of 113 million riyals for the quarter.

Al Rajhi Bank rose 1.4 percent, however, after Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by assets reported a 19.8 percent rise in its fourth-quarter net profit, broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts.

Dubai’s index edged down 0.1 percent. Emaar Properties fell 1.0 percent after the company said it made a net profit of $1.55 billion in 2017; last week, Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar said it made $1.8 billion, but the company clarified that his figure was before depreciation. Emaar is expected to formally release annual earnings in coming days.

Abu Dhabi’s index edged up 0.2 percent as Dana Gas added 1.4 percent. The company said it swung to a net profit of $83 million in 2017 from a net loss of $88 million a year earlier after a $1 billion payment as part of a settlement with the Kurdistan Regional Government.

However, it posted a net loss of $42 million in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters calculations in the absence of a quarterly breakdown. Profits in the quarter were affected by an impairment charge of $34 million against the Zora gas field in the United Arab Emirates following the year-end reserve report, the company said.

Qatar’s index outperformed, surging 1.1 percent, as Barwa Real Estate climbed 3.6 percent. It reported a rise in annual net profit to 1.71 billion riyals ($470 million) from 1.61 billion riyals and kept its dividend unchanged, despite a slump in Qatar’s real estate market; in the first nine months of last year, the company’s profit had dropped. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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