September 16, 2018 / 12:32 PM / in a month

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi hits new 6-month low, Egypt slips on emerging market woes

* Saudi index has been hard hit by emerging market selling

* Emaar Properties, Emirates NBD hurt Dubai index

* DSI pares some early losses after key shareholder’s statement

* Egypt stocks see lowest closing since Feb. 13

By Saeed Azhar

DUBAI, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian shares closed at a new six-month low on Sunday on selling in financial stocks, while Dubai stocks slipped more than 1 percent, hurt by Emaar Properties, as risk-aversion spread across most Gulf markets.

The Egyptian index fell 3.4 percent to end the session at 14,796, the lowest close since Feb. 13. The index, which hit a record high of 18,414 points in April, is now down more than 1 percent year-to-date.

The Saudi index closed 1.6 percent lower at 7,470 points, the lowest since March 7, as emerging market volatility continued to weigh on regional markets.

The index has lost more than 9 percent in value this quarter. Banks took the brunt of the losses, with Samba Financial Group falling 3.3 percent and National Commercial Bank dropping almost 3 percent.

“There appears to be selling pressure from domestic institutions in Saudi Arabia,” said Nishit Lakhotia, head of research at Bahrain-based SICO BSC.

Saudi Basic Industries, which fell 1.4 percent, has been under pressure after news reports that Saudi Aramco may buy a controlling stake in the petrochemicals company at a discount.

Aramco said last week that recent media reports about a potential transaction between Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. were “entirely speculative.”

“In the near term there is absence of any triggers in Tadawul with Q3 earnings likely to be relatively muted. However, we expect Saudi to be more buoyant in Q4 with investors again positioning themselves selectively ahead of MSCI and FTSE inclusion event,” Lakhotia said.

Saudi Real Estate, however, was up 4 percent after its unit Al Widyan Co awarded a 1.1 billion riyals ($293 million) contract to a company to develop key infrastructure on a site in the northern growth corridor of Riyadh.

The Dubai index fell 0.8 percent, hit by a 3.2 percent drop in Emaar Properties and a 2.3 percent fall in Emirates NBD.

Drake & Scull ended 0.5 percent lower, erasing some of its early losses when it hit a record low of 0.376 dirhams ($0.1024). It closed at 0.4 dirhams.

The partial recovery was helped by a statement of support from Tabarak Investment, DSI’s biggest shareholder with a 13.73 percent stake.

Tabarak said in a statement at the weekend it was committed to restoring DSI to financial health, and had arranged for the company to obtain over 1 billion dirhams of projects.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.6 percent, supported by market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank, which gained 0.8 percent, and a 4.2 percent gain in United Arab Bank .

In Qatar, the index dropped 0.8 percent, easing from a 16-month high in the previous session, as blue-chip stocks traded lower. Industries Qatar dropped almost 0.8 percent and Qatar National Bank fell 0.8 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index fell 1.6 percent to 7,470 points.

QATAR * The index fell 0.8 percent to 9,942 points.

EGYPT * The index fell 3.3 percent to 14,792 points.

KUWAIT * The index was flat to 5,347 points.

BAHRAIN * The index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,341 points.

OMAN * The index rose 0.1 percent to 4,563 points. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Mark Potter)

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