February 10, 2019 / 1:28 PM / 14 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi slides on weakness in blue-chips, UAE hit by property woes

    * Saudi loses momentum on banking, petrochemical shares
    * Telco, Industries Qatar weigh on Qatari stocks
    * Aldar, First Abu Dhabi Bank suffer in Abu Dhabi
    * DAMAC down 3.2 percent, weighing on Dubai

    By Marwa Rashad and Saeed Azhar
    RIYADH/DUBAI, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Most Gulf markets fell on
Sunday, led by Saudi and Qatari stocks, as investors cut
positions in blue-chip stocks after last week's weakness in
global stocks amid lingering uncertainty about the world
economy.
    Saudi stocks began the day on a positive note after a rally
in construction and cement stocks following a royal decree to
reimburse rising expatriate fees that will help labour-intensive
sectors.
    But weakness in key banking and petrochemical shares quickly
changed investor sentiment. The benchmark index ended
0.5 lower with Al Rajhi Bank down almost 1 percent and
Saudi Basic Industries off by a similar margin.
    Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International
Monetary Fund, said on Saturday oil exporters have not fully
recovered from the oil price shock of 2014.
    However, news of the royal decree on expat fees still lifted
shares of cement and construction companies. Eastern Province
Cement ended almost 1 percent higher, Arab Cement
 rose 1.9 percent and construction firm AlKhodari
 added 0.6 percent. 
    The Saudi government is allocating 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1
billion) under a scheme that reimburses some companies who
struggled to pay steadily increasing fees for expatriate work
permits in 2017 and 2018 and waives the hikes for some unable to
pay.
    Qatar's index, one of the world's best performing
markets last year, fell 0.6 percent with market heavyweight
Industries Qatar dropping 0.7 percent and Vodafone
Qatar down 1.8 percent.
    Abu Dhabi shares were hit by selling in Aldar
Properties which ended 1.9 percent lower and First Abu
Dhabi Bank which dropped 0.9 percent.     
    Dubai was dragged down by DAMAC Properties
, which dropped 3.2 percent. 
    The firm has been hit hard by the property downturn in
Dubai. EFG Hermes expects DAMAC to report a net profit of 214
million dirhams ($58.28 million) in the fourth quarter, more
than half what it reported in the same quarter in 2017.
    
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         lost 0.5 pct to 8,573 points
 DUBAI         The index          shed 0.5 pct to 2,530 points
 QATAR         The index        fell 0.6 pct to 10,441 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        slid 0.6 pct to 5,082 points
 EGYPT         The index          ended flat at 14,764  points
 KUWAIT        The index        was flat at 5,442 points
 OMAN          The index        was up 0.2 pct at 4,158 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        fell 0.6 pct to 1,410 points
 
($1 = 3.6405 Qatar riyals)

($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)


 (Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
  
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