July 21, 2019 / 2:18 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Tanker incident weighs on Saudi, profit taking hurts Kuwait

    * Tanker tensions in the Gulf weigh on sentiment
    * Banks drag down Saudi index
    * Profit taking hurts Kuwait's index
    * Dubai slips on property shares
    * Heavyweight FAB lifts Abu Dhabi

    By Tuqa Khalid
    DUBAI, July 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock index
 declined on Sunday, as political concerns weighed on
investors after Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in
the Gulf.
    Britain called Iran's action against the Stena Impero in the
Strait of Hormuz on Friday a "hostile act".
    "Markets are following the negative global lead as
geopolitical risks take centre stage following the UK tanker
seizure," said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al
Mal Capital in Dubai.
    Saudi shares shed 0.8%, with financial stocks seeing heavy
losses ahead of an expected interest rate cut this month by the
U.S. Federal Reserve.
    Saudi British Bank (SABB) was down 2.2%, Arab
National Bank was down 1.7%, National Commercial Bank
 was down 1.1%, and Saudi Investment Bank was
down 0.6%.   
    Other Gulf markets were mixed.
    In Kuwait, profit taking sent the index down 1.2%.
    "Kuwait is the best performing MENA market this year so far,
up almost 20%, and so it is not surprising that some investors
are taking profits," said Bhandari.
    "We believe the market would continue to be well supported
(up to its)... inclusion in the MSCI EM Index in mid-2020."
    Ahli United Bank was down 2.5%, Kuwait Finance
House was down 1.4%, and Kuwait International Bank
 was down 1.1%.
    In Dubai the index was 0.9% lower, dragged down by
the real estate sector. Construction firm Arabtec lost
2.3%, DAMAC Properties 2%, and Emaar Development
 1.6%.
    Dubai is in a real estate downturn that has seen prices fall
by more than a quarter from a peak in mid-2014, hurting earnings
of the emirate’s top developers and forcing construction and
engineering firms to cut jobs and halt expansion plans.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index climbed 0.3%, lifted by
heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank, which was up 1%. 
    The lender, the largest in the UAE, last week rose 4% after
posting a 5% increase in second-quarter net profit.
    FAB gave a boost to the sector, with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
 and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gaining 0.8%
and 0.6% respectively.
    Egypt's blue-chip index lost 0.7%, weighed down by
real estate. Cairo Investment and Real Estate Development
 tumbled 4.2% and Orascom Development dropped
2.9%.
    
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         dropped 0.8% to 8,958 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        gained 0.3% to 5,235 points
 DUBAI         The index          lost 0.9% to 2,739 points
 QATAR         The index        was flat at 10,501 points
 EGYPT         The index          was down 0.7% to 13,576
               points
 BAHRAIN       The index        slid 0.2% to 1,534 points
 OMAN          The index        was up 0.6% to 3,771 points
 KUWAIT        The index        declined 1.2% to 6,664 points
 
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

 (Reporting by Tuqa Khalid, editing by Davide Barbuscia and John
Stonestreet)
  
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