February 15, 2018 / 8:09 AM / 9 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises in early trade, most of Gulf sluggish

DUBAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose in early trade on Thursday, encouraged by strong global bourses and a slight rebound in oil prices, but most of the Gulf was sluggish because of mediocre corporate earnings.

The Saudi index gained 0.7 percent in the first 45 minutes in a broad-based rise. Gainers outnumbered losers by 147 to 20. The cement sector was particularly strong with 12 of its 13 members rising.

Saudi Investment Bank added 2.5 percent after saying it would pay an annual dividend of 0.6 riyal per share, up from 0.5 riyal for 2016.

In Dubai, however, the index edged down 0.1 percent as DAMAC Properties, which on Wednesday revealed a 47 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit, lost 1.2 percent.

The biggest real estate developer, Emaar Properties , rose 0.5 percent after it reported a 16 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit to 1.36 billion dirhams ($370.3 million), below SICO Bahrain’s forecast of 1.61 billion dirhams.

Union Properties slipped 0.6 percent after reporting an annual net loss of 2.38 billion dirhams ($649 million) compared with a year-earlier profit of 211.4 ‍​million dirhams; the figures implied a fourth-quarter loss of roughly 90 million dirhams.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.1 percent as telecommunications firm Etisalat fell 0.3 percent. It posted a 12 percent fall in quarterly profit to 1.97 billion dirhams, while SICO Bahrain had forecast 2.21 billion dirhams.

Aldar Properties dropped 1.3 percent after reporting a 28 percent decline in full-year profit attributable to owners, partly because of a one-time charge of 495 million dirhams. The company raised its annual dividend to 12 fils per share from 11 fils in 2016.

Qatar’s index fell 0.2 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical lost 1.1 percent, despite reporting a slight rise in annual profit and a hike in its dividend to 0.7 riyal per share from 0.6 riyal. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by David Holmes)

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