March 11, 2019 / 8:47 AM / 7 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi slips on sliding banks, top lender lifts Abu Dhabi

March 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell in early trading on Monday as most of its bank shares dropped, while Abu Dhabi was lifted partially by its top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Saudi Arabia’s index was down 0.6 percent with Riyad Bank falling 1.7 percent and Al Rajhi Bank slipping 0.8 percent.

Southern Province Cement lost 1.3 percent after reporting a 47 percent drop in its full-year net profit due to lower sales prices.

Al Hammadi Company For Development And Investment also fell 1.8 percent after its full-year net profit dropped.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.5 percent with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender, rising 0.7 percent to 13.8 dirhams.

Arqaam Capital raised the bank’s target price to 13.8 dirhams from 13.5 on lower operational expenses. It said the lender was one of the strongest return generators in UAE, but cautioned on limited upside from current levels with the stock trading at twice the book value estimates for 2019.

The bank is still open to further merger and acquisition in the domestic space, which will be a value proposition in a crowded UAE banking market, Arqaam said. It said Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah were potential candidates for any possible deal.

Qatar’s index rose 0.2 percent with telecommunications firm Ooredoo increasing 1.9 percent and petrochemical maker Industries Qatar gaining 1.3 percent.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.1 percent with all financial stocks trading lower. Amlak Finance plunged 5.3 percent while Dubai Islamic Bank slid 0.6 percent. (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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