March 20, 2019 / 1:30 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petrochemicals companies hold back Saudi as rival markets firm

    * Saudi's Riyad Bank slips as it goes ex-dividend
    * Savola Group slides on full-year loss
    * Six of seven banks gain in Qatar
    * Commercial Bank of Dubai rises on Arqaam upgrade

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    March 20 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market dropped on
Wednesday as petrochemical companies slid amid falling oil
prices while rival markets were mostly lifted by financial
    The Saudi index eased 0.2 percent from the
multi-year closing high hit after it entered FTSE Russell's
emerging-market index on Monday.
    The Middle East's largest petrochemicals producer Saudi
Basic Industries slipped 0.3 percent and Riyad Bank
 shed 1.5 percent as the lender traded ex-dividend.
    Food products company Savola Group fell 2.1
percent after it swung to a full-year net loss, with the company
citing an exceptional expense of 100.7 million riyals ($26.9
million) in 2018.
    Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.5 percent after
suffering this year's biggest one-day loss in the previous
    Heavyweight lender Commercial International Bank,
which has the biggest weighting on the index, rose 1.8 percent
and Qalaa Holdings added 1.7 percent. 
    The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.4 percent, with First
Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates Telecommunications
 each gaining 0.8 percent. 
    Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics, however, plunged 9.8
percent to its biggest intra-day loss in three years as it went
    The Qatari index was up 0.2 percent as six of its
seven banks rose, with the Middle East's biggest, Qatar National
Bank, gaining 1.1 percent.
    Qatar Islamic Bank added 1.3 percent after
completed issuance of a $750 million sukuk. 
    In Dubai, the index edged up 0.1 percent. Emirates
Integrated Telecommunications and Commercial Bank of
Dubai jumped by 2.9 percent 2.7 percent repectively.
Arqaam Capital upgraded the bank's stock to a "buy", forecasting
8 percent growth in earnings per share every year between 2018
and 2023.
    The Kuwait index rose 1.2 percent, with Kuwait
Projects rising 4 percent. The company this week
gained regulatory approval to increase its paid-up capital. 
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
 SAUDI      The index         fell 0.2 pct to 8,641 points
 ABU DHABI  The index        rose 0.4 pct at 5,098 points
 DUBAI      The index          was up 0.1 pct to 2,644 points
 QATAR      The index        was up 0.2 pct at 9,977 points
 EGYPT      The index          rose 0.5 pct to 14,724 points
 KUWAIT     The index        rose 1.2 pct to 5,817 points
 OMAN       The index        edged up 0.1 pct to 4,162 points
 BAHRAIN    The index        rose 0.2 pct to 1,423 points

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by David Goodman)
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