August 30, 2018 / 1:39 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi falls for second day on valuation concerns, other Gulf mkts up

* Saudi index down 0.9 pct, hurt by financials, SABIC

* UAE, Qatar markets boosted by financials

* Egypt market hits highest since July 12

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Saudi stock market fell for the second day in a row on Thursday as investors continued to cut positions in the absence of fresh news and concerns about valuations. Other big Gulf markets rose.

Middle East fund managers have become less positive towards equities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after Turkey’s currency crisis triggered volatility in the markets this month, a monthly Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

The Saudi index fell 0.9 percent, hurt by selling in market heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries, which dropped 1.1 percent, and Al Rajhi Bank declined 1 percent. The Saudi index is still up 9.9 percent since the start of the year, but has seen selling this quarter.

This year’s gains have been fuelled by inflows of foreign funds in anticipation of Riyadh joining emerging market indexes next year. Recent exchange data indicates those inflows have slowed, but not halted, as stock valuations have risen.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Dubai index was up 0.3 percent, with the exchange’s biggest bank Emirates NBD up 0.5 percent and developer Arabtec up 1.6 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was up 0.5 percent, with First Abu Dhabi Bank up 0.7 percent and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank 2.3 percent higher.

The Qatar index was up 0.5 percent, with buying interest in financials, led by Qatar National Bank which rose 1.7 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank which climbed 2.4 percent.

Qatar is the best performing stock market in the Gulf this year, up 15.4 percent, as its economy has remained resilient despite the economic embargo led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and moves by its large companies to lift foreign ownership.

The Egyptian index was also up 1.1 percent, as the index hit the highest level since July 12, due to sustained interest in financials and property stocks. Commercial Bank International Egypt climbed 2.2 percent and Madinet Nasr for Housing surged 5.1 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index fell 0.9 percent to 7,948 points. DUBAI * The index rose 0.3 percent to 2,840 points. ABU DHABI * The index gained 0.5 percent to 4,987 points. QATAR * The index rose 0.5 percent to 9,886 points. KUWAIT * The index was down 0.1 percent at 5,262 points. BAHRAIN * The index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,338 points. OMAN * The index fell 0.3 percent to 4,419 points. EGYPT * The index rose 1.1 percent to 16,009 points.

$1 = 17.8500 Egyptian pounds Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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