September 11, 2019 / 2:19 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stock index slips to 8-month low amid slowing economy

    * 163 stocks fall in Saudi, 19 rise 
    * Qatar rises for a fourth day
    * Financials boost Qatar
    * Property weighs on Dubai
    * Egypt's Eastern Co gains on FY dividend

    By Maqsood Alam 
    Sept 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell to an
eight-month low on Wednesday as a slowing economy prompted
investors to pull most shares down from lofty valuations.
    The Saudi index closed 1.4% down with 163 of its
stocks falling and 19 rising. 
    Blue-chip stocks were the biggest drag on the index. Lenders
National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank
shed 2.7% and 1.2% respectively, while petrochemical maker Saudi
Basic Industries lost 2.2%. 
    The index fell as much as 2.5% during the session, wiping
out all its gains this year before clawing back some losses to
close just 0.4% up year-to-date.  
    The market had jumped as much as 20% between January and
May, led by foreign investors who have been net buyers every
month this year as Saudi stocks joined the MSCI and FTSE Russell
emerging market indexes.
    The move onto the indexes caused the stocks to become
over-valued, with the kingdom's slowing economy teetering on the
brink of contraction
    "Saudi Tadawul has lost more than 15% since May," said
Vrajesh Bhandari, Senior Portfolio Manager at Al Mal Capital.
"Valuations were expensive and fundamentals have caught up now.
However, even with this we do not see value in large caps and
therefore expect more downside." 
    "Investors need to be selective and we find interesting
ideas within the midcap space," added Bhandari. "One area to
have a close eye on is Government project spending on
infrastructure and how much that translates into loan growth for
    Dubai's index was down 0.3% with Dubai's largest
listed developer Emaar Properties dropping 0.8%.
     Qatar's index rose 0.9% extending its gains for the
fourth day, in a boost led by financial shares with Gulf's
biggest lender Qatar National Bank advancing 1%. 
    In Abu Dhabi, the index was up 0.2% lifted by 0.4%
gain in market heavy-weight First Abu Dhabi Bank. 
    Egypt's index closed 0.4% higher. Eastern Co
 gained 3.6% after the cigarette maker's board proposed
an annual dividend of one Egyptian pound per share. 
    The market also received support from a decline in the
country's annual urban consumer-price inflation rate to 7.5% in
August, the lowest rate in years. The fall cleared the way for
further rate cuts by the central bank, which delivered a rate
cut in August.
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         dropped 1.4% to 7,855 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        was up 0.2% to 5,106 points
 DUBAI         The index          was down 0.3% to 2,885 points
 QATAR         The index        gained 0.9% to 10,466 points
 EGYPT         The index          rose 0.4% to 15,015 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        was down 0.5% at 1,541 points
 OMAN          The index        gained 0.5% to 4,017 points
 KUWAIT        The index        lost 2.5% to 6,261 points
 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru, Editing by William
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