October 29, 2018 / 8:23 AM / 19 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up after earnings, Abu Dhabi at two-month low

Oct 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock index gained on Monday, buoyed by strong earnings, while most major Gulf markets fell, with Abu Dhabi hitting its lowest in two months.

Stock exchange data on Sunday showed that foreigners sold a net 2.34 billion riyals ($624 million) in the Saudi stock market for the week ending Oct. 25, but the bourse was supported by local institutions, which bought 8.06 billion riyals worth of shares.

The data indicated that foreign selling had slowed from the previous week. It hit a record then investors were spooked by the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Foreign ownership is now down to 1.65 percent, after stripping out strategic shareholders, from 1.94 percent the week before and 2.17 percent in the week ending Oct. 11, Arqaam Capital said in a note on Monday.

The research note said recent events were unlikely to derail an upgrade of the stock market by index providers FTSE Russell and MSCI.

The main index rose 0.9 percent, supported by a 8.2 percent rise in mobile telecommunication firm Zain Saudi after reporting a jump in quarterly profit.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group rose 4.2 percent following a 41.1 percent surge in quarterly profit after tax to 319 million riyals ($85.05 million).

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) was up 0.3 percent in early trade, after dropping nearly 2 percent on Sunday when it posted a 5.4 percent rise in quarterly net profit.

Signalling global investor appetite for Saudi Arabia, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund on Friday announced plans to more than double its investments in the kingdom after it is included in the fund’s reference index.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index fell 1 percent to 4,849 points, a two-month low.

A 1.8 percent fall in First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 2 percent slide in Damac Properties led the decline.

Real estate company Rak Properties shed 3.8 percent after posting a loss compared with a year-ago profit in its third quarter.

Qatar’s blue-chip index lost 0.5 percent, anchored by a 1 percent fall in Industries Qatar. Gulf International Services dived 4 percent despite reporting a jump in its nine-month profit on Sunday.

The Dubai index moved 0.6 percent lower, as real estate stocks Emaar Properties lost 1.8 percent and Damac Properties fell 3.1 percent.

The index was also pulled down by a 3.4 percent fall in Dubai Islamic Insurance and Reinsurance. The company said it would hold a board meeting on Nov. 4 to discuss its solvency margin, among other items. ($1 = 3.7509 riyals) (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by Larry King)

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