August 29, 2018 / 2:02 PM / 23 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi market takes breather amid profit-taking, regional markets mostly up

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Saudi shares slipped on Wednesday as investors booked profits after three days of gains, while regional markets ended mostly higher on a rise in oil prices.

With company earnings out of the way and the end of an extended holiday last week, equity investors cut their exposure to risky assets.

“The market decline is just profit taking as there is no material news to impact it especially after the second quarter earnings season a week before Eid break,” said Iyad Ghulam, senior equity research analyst at Riyadh’s NCB Capital.

Saudi’s index fell 0.2 percent, ending a streak of gains over the last three days.

The benchmark was weighed down by telecom and financial stocks, with Saudi Telecom down 1.1 percent and Riyad Bank down 0.6 percent.

“The marginal fall in the Saudi index today was led by declines in the banking sector as some investors are expecting limited lending activity through the remaining part of this year,” said Muhammad Faisal Potrik, head of research at Riyad Capital.

“Telecom stocks were under pressure, although the number of subscribers has grown as per the latest available data and earnings may be positively impacted in the third quarter due to the Haj season,” Potrik added.

In the United Arab Emirates, stocks led regional gains, with Dubai’s market bolstered by a surge in property and financials, and the Abu Dhabi market posting modest gains.

The Dubai index added 0.5 percent, driven by Emaar Properties which rose 1.4 percent following two days of sell-offs, and Emirates NBD, which rose 1.1 percent after a day of increased buying interest, said Marie Salem, director of capital markets at FFA Dubai.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.1 percent due to strong financials, with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) rising 0.3 percent, Union National Bank up 0.8 percent, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank increasing 0.3 percent.

“The Abu Dhabi index gave decent volumes compared to the Dubai index, mainly with 80 percent to 85 percent concentrated among Etisalat and FAB,” said Salem.

“FAB has been supporting the index strongly given the foreigners’ interest in the solid bank,” said Salem.

The Qatar index fell 0.2 percent, with Qatar First Bank dropping 1 percent, Qatar International Islamic Bank down 1.2 percent, and Masraf Al Rayan falling 0.8 percent.

“The QE Index has seen an expected slight profit-taking on the opening today after rallying over 4 percent since the beginning of the week due to EM equity ETFs seeing an inflow of $750 million during Eid week, in which the local market was closed,” said Rami Jamal, portfolio manager at Amwal in Qatar.

The Bahrain index dropped 0.4 percent, weighed down heavily by financials, as Khaleeji Bank plunged 8.4 percent, Ithmaar Bank dropped 4.8 percent, and Ahli United Bank fell 0.7 percent.

Oman’s index rose 0.5 percent, driven by strong financial and telecommunication stocks performance. Alizz Islamic Bank surged 6 percent and telecommunications firm Ooredoo rose 2.3 percent.

In Egypt, the benchmark index rose 1.5 percent, lifted by the chemical sector with Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals surging 5.2 percent, as it announced a 42 percent net profit increase quarter-on-quarter, and Abu Qir Fertilizers and Chemicals rising eight percent.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index fell 0.2 percent to 8,019 points. DUBAI * The index rose 0.5 percent to 2,832 points. ABU DHABI * The index gained 0.1 percent to 4,963 points. QATAR * The index fell 0.2 percent to 9,836 points. KUWAIT * The index was flat at 5,256 points. BAHRAIN * The index dropped 0.4 percent to 1,342 points. OMAN * The index gained 0.5 percent to 4,431 points. EGYPT * The index rose 1.5 percent to 15,836 points.

$1 = 17.8500 Egyptian pounds Reporting by Tuqa Khalid, editing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Ken Ferris

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