July 8, 2018 / 12:57 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Almarai up despite weak results as Gulf markets post gains

* Alhokair rebounds in Saudi Arabia

* Almarai adds 1.4 percent despite profit drop

* Amanat best performer in Dubai, DSI keeps dropping

* Qatari banks stocks rise ahead of Q2 results

By Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, July 8 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were up on Sunday, reflecting gains in world stocks last week after the threat of tariffs by the United States and China on billions of dollars of trade became a reality.

The Saudi index gained 0.6 percent, with shares in retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co rebounding 3.9 percent from heavy losses last week, when it reported a drop in annual profit and announced it would close up to 75 stores.

Retail giant Almarai reported profit of 660.6 million riyals ($176 million) for the second quarter, 2 percent down from 674.1 million riyals in the previous period of last year, blaming a downturn in the market in part for its weaker than expected earnings. Shares in the company, which had fallen 4.5 percent in the week before the results, rose 1.4 percent on Sunday.

The launch of value added tax (VAT) in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has impacted the retail market in those two countries.

“VAT has squeezed the purchasing power of consumers and as a result affected the retail market,” said Jassim al-Jabran, senior analyst at AlJazira Capital. “For Almarai, the main impact has been on its dairy segment because of the competition it was facing forcing it to reduce prices.”

Insurance companies continued to be among the best performers in the Saudi exchange, still benefiting from expectations of a surge in business after women started driving in the kingdom last month.

United Cooperative Assurance Company was the best performer, gaining 5.7 percent.

In Dubai, where the index was up 0.2 percent, Amanat Holdings was the company that posted the largest gains as it jumped 6.7 percent. The investment firm said last week that it has agreed to acquire Middlesex University’s campus in Dubai, which is partly owned by embattled private equity company Abraaj.

Ajman Bank added 0.4 percent after announcing a net profit of 45 million dirhams ($12.25 million) in the second quarter of this year, up from 29.3 million last year.

Dubai’s contractor Drake & Scull International (DSI) , one of the worst-performing stocks on the Dubai index, lost 0.3 percent.

The company has been lagging because of concerns about its financial position, business outlook and the outcome of an investigation into “violations” by previous management.

In Bahrain, Aluminium Bahrain gained 0.8 percent after reporting a second quarter annual increase in sales and production of 19 percent and 23 percent, respectively. The Bahraini index added 0.4 percent.

In Qatar, stocks in financial institutions posted significant gains ahead of second quarter financial results disclosures, expected to start later this week. Qatar Islamic Bank and heavyweight Qatar National Bank were both up 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. The Qatari index was up 0.7 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 0.6 percent to 8,223 points.

DUBAI

* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 2,885 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index added 0.3 percent to 4,615 points.

QATAR

* The index increased 0.7 percent to 9,325 points.

KUWAIT

* The index went up 1.4 percent to 5,254 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 0.4 percent to 1,336 points.

OMAN

* The index shed 0.1 percent to 4,520 points.

EGYPT

* The index lost 1.8 percent to 15,840 points. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) (Additional reporting by Tom Arnold; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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