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Ateeq Shariff

MIDEAST STOCKS-Financials buoy Qatar; blue-chip sell-off trips up Egypt

09 Jul 2020

* Qatar to raise Qatari staff proportion in state-affiliated cos * 27 of 30 stocks decline in Egypt's blue-chip index By Ateeq Shariff July 9 Broad-based gains pushed the Qatari bourse higher on Thursday, with financial stocks leading the pack, whereas a wide sell-off pulled down Egypt's blue-chip share index. In Qatar, the benchmark share index advanced 1%, as most of its constituents ended higher. Qatar National Bank , the Gulf's biggest lender, gained 2.8%, while petrochemical firm Industries Qatar added 1.9%. Elsewhere, Commercial Bank was up 1.5%. On Wednesday, the Qatari cabinet approved a draft resolution that aims to raise the percentage of Qataris working at state-owned companies or where the state is an investor to 60%, state news agency QNA reported. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index slid 1.5%, with 27 of its 30 stocks declining. Commercial International Bank fell 1.1% and Cleopatra Hospital tumbled 4.9%. The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia edged up 0.3%, with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services rising 2%. Arqaam Capital said in a research note on Tuesday that the health-care firm which went public in March, and now meets the minimum three months of trading, will be included in FTSE indexes in September with about $39 million of passive inflows. Dubai's main share index slipped 0.1%, hurt by a 2.5% fall in budget airliner Air Arabia and a 1.5% drop in logistic firm Air Arabia. The coronavirus outbreak delivered a blow to Dubai, one of the most visited cities globally, where tourism accounts for more than 11% of GDP. Dozens of hotels closed while occupancy rates fell to less than 10% in others. The Abu Dhabi index lost 0.4%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, falling 0.7%, while aquaculture firm International Holding was down 1.5%. However, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank added 0.6%. On Monday, the sharia-compliant lender said it had raised its foreign ownership limit to 40% from 25%. SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.3% to 7,417 points ABU DHABI dropped 0.4% to 4,295 points DUBAI eased 0.1% to 2,082 points QATAR gained 1% to 9,316 points EGYPT down 1.5% to 10,957 points BAHRAIN added 0.2% to 1,286 points OMAN was flat at 3,494 points KUWAIT lost 0.2% to 5,604 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai gains on further lockdown easing; Saudi retreats

22 Jun 2020

* Dubai allows foreign tourists to enter from July 7 * All Saudi Arabian banks tumble * QNB to raise 1.2 bln Chinese yuan in 5-year bonds By Ateeq Shariff June 22 The Dubai stock market advanced on Monday after the emirate said it would allow tourists to enter from July 7 in a further easing of its coronavirus lockdown, while the Saudi bourse retreated with broad-based losses among its constituents. Dubai's main share index rose 1.6%, with sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates NBD Bank both up 1.8%. Budget airline Air Arabia jumped 5.3%. Dubai will also allow those with residency visas to enter from Monday, the government media office said in a statement on Sunday, more than two months after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced strict measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Last week, the UAE allowed citizens and residents to travel to countries deemed low-risk for catching the coronavirus. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index retreated 1.2%, pulled down by a 2.3% fall in petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries and a 2.7% decline in Riyad Bank. "It's not surprising that the market is weak, since there is no catalyst left," an analyst said, as the kingdom completed the final phase of joining the FTSE emerging market index. The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.3%, supported by a 0.8% gain in Emirates Telecommunications. In Qatar, the index lost 0.3%, driven by a 3.2% slide in Qatar International Islamic Bank. However, the index's fall was cushioned by a 0.5% rise in Qatar National Bank (QNB). The Gulf's biggest lender by assets is set to raise 1.2 billion Chinese yuan ($169.61 million) through the sale of 3.85% five-year bonds on Monday Egypt's blue-chip index fell 0.8% with Commercial International Bank down 1.3%, while tobacco monopoly Eastern Company fell 4.5%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 1.2% to 7,260 points ABU DHABI added 0.3% to 4,347 points DUBAI rose 1.6% to 2,091 points QATAR lost 0.3% to 9,261 points EGYPT down 0.8% to 10,742 points BAHRAIN gained 0.3% to 1,279 points OMAN eased 0.4% to 3,510 points KUWAIT was up 0.4% at 5,506 points ($1 = 7.0752 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait leads Gulf lower, Egypt hit by coronavirus spike

14 Jun 2020

* Kuwait sees biggest intraday fall in more than two months * Saudi Arabia's Amlak International intends to float * Dubai Investments extends losses By Ateeq Shariff June 14 Most Gulf stocks closed lower on Sunday, with Kuwait hardest after its banking federation said banks would not pay dividends, while Egyptian shares sold off on a spike in coronavirus cases. The Kuwaiti index tumbled 3.2%, its biggest intraday fall since April, with National Bank of Kuwait down 4% and Kuwait Finance House ending 3.8% lower. Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority on Thursday cancelled all Wednesday's stock transactions after bank stocks fell in the wake of a banking federation statement that Kuwaiti banks would not pay dividends for 2020. Beyond the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index ended 0.9% down, pressured by a 2.6% fall in Egypt Kuwait Holding and a 4.4% drop in El Sewedy Electric. Egypt confirmed 1,677 new coronavirus cases and 62 deaths, its health ministry said on Saturday, the highest daily increase for both. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slipped 0.2%. Banque Saudi Fransi fell 2.2%, while petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries eased 0.6%. Separately, the kingdom's Amlak International for Real Estate Finance said it will proceed with an initial public offering of 30% of its shares on the Riyadh exchange. Dubai's main share index eased 0.5%, driven down by a 4.8% fall in Dubai Investments, extending losses from the previous session after the stock traded ex-dividend and Arabtec Holding was down 1.3%. The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.4%, hurt by a 0.7% fall in top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank. Qatar's index dropped 0.5%, with petrochemical firm Industries Qatar falling 1.9% and utility company Qatar Electricity and Water declining 2%. SAUDI ARABIA was down 0.2% to 7,293 points ABU DHABI eased 0.4% to 4,276 points DUBAI fell 0.5% to 2,092 points QATAR lost 0.5% to 9,185 points EGYPT down 0.9% to 10,731 points BAHRAIN retreated 0.5% to 1,274 points OMAN edged up 0.2% to 3,520 points KUWAIT slid 3.2% at 5,347 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks rise on oil pact, Egypt lifted by IMF agreement

07 Jun 2020

* Dubai registers biggest intraday rise in two months * 26 of 30 stocks gain on Egypt's blue-chip index * IMF announces preliminary deal on standby loan for Egypt By Ateeq Shariff June 7 Most bourses in the Gulf ended higher on Sunday, a day after the OPEC+ group of oil producers agreed to extend record production cuts until the end of July, with Egyptian shares boosted by a preliminary deal on a standby IMF loan for the country. Saturday's deal between OPEC and other producers led by Russia prolongs a pact that has helped crude prices to double in the past two months by withdrawing almost 10% of global supplies from the market. Dubai's main share index jumped 4.6%, its biggest intraday gain since April 7, led by a 9.5% surge for Dubai Islamic Bank and a 6.1% increase in Emaar Properties . In Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader, the index was up 0.8%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 1% and petrochemicals group Saudi Basic Industries up 1.1%. Oil giant Saudi Aramco, meanwhile, gained 0.6%. It was not clear whether Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait would extend their additional voluntary oil production cuts of 1.18 million bpd, which are not part of the OPEC+ deal. The Abu Dhabi index gained 2.4%, boosted by a 4.2% jump for the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank . Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index surged 4.6% after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Friday that it had reached a staff-level agreement with Egypt for a one-year $5.2 billion standby loan to help the country to contend with the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement will be finalised by the IMF's executive board. SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.8% to 7,268 points ABU DHABI gained 2.4% to 4,405 points DUBAI leapt 4.6% to 2,133 points QATAR added 1.1% to 9,349 points EGYPT up 4.6% to 11,109 points BAHRAIN lost 0.4% to 1,270 points OMAN was up 0.6% to 3,538 points KUWAIT rose 0.9% to 5,507 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most markets gain, Saudi retreats amid falling oil prices

03 Jun 2020

* Nine of 11 Saudi Arabian banks decline * Dubai reopens malls and private businesses * QNB markets 5-yr Chinese yuan-denominated bonds By Ateeq Shariff June 3 Most stock markets in the Gulf region closed higher on Wednesday, with Qatar rising the most, while the Saudi index fell after oil prices weakened due to doubts about an early meeting of OPEC+ nations. OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have preliminary agreed to extend existing record oil production cuts by one month, sources told Reuters. But oil prices retreated after Bloomberg reported that the Thursday meeting was in doubt. Brent crude futures for August were down 31 cents, or 0.8%, at $39.26 by 1310 GMT, having earlier touched their highest since March 6. Saudi Arabian benchmark index lost 0.9%, with Al Rajhi Bank dropping 1% and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries declining 1.8%. In Dubai, the index firmed 0.8%, with sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank rising 2% and logistics firm Aramex leaping 3.8%. Dubai will allow the full reopening of malls and private businesses starting on Wednesday, its media office said on Tuesday, after the United Arab Emirates business hub began easing restrictions last month. Elsewhere, Emaar Malls advanced 2.2%. The Qatari index gained 1.6%, as most of the constituents on the index ended higher, including petrochemical firm Industries Qatar, which was up 5.9%. Qatar National Bank (QNB) added 1.2%. The Gulf's largest lender is marketing five-year Chinese yuan-denominated bonds at a final price guidance of 3.8%, Reuters reported on Wednesday citing two sources. The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.2%, helped by a 4.6% increase in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index increased 0.8%, led by a 1.3% gain in Commercial International Bank . SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.9% to 7,222 ABU DHABI edged up 0.2% to 4,285 DUBAI added 0.8% to 2,000 QATAR rose 1.6% to 9,213 EGYPT up 0.9% to 10,424 BAHRAIN was up 0.5% at 1,275 OMAN slipped 0.2% to 3,535 KUWAIT was down 0.2% at 5,458 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi outperforms; Saudi retreats

02 Jun 2020

* Etisalat leaps on unit's deal * FAB sells $500 mln in Formosa bonds - sources * Saudi Aramco falls ahead of OPEC+ meeting By Ateeq Shariff June 2 Most major stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Tuesday, with Abu Dhabi outperforming the region, whereas the Saudi index retreated ahead of an OPEC+ meeting on output cuts. In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 2.6%, boosted by a 4.9% surge in Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat) , after its Egyptian unit Etisalat Misr and Telecom Egypt signed transmission and mobile-to-fixed interconnection agreements on Monday. The deal will enable Etisalat Misr to continue delivering premium offers and mobile telecommunications services to customers in Egypt. Elsewhere, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) gained 2.7%. The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) largest lender sold $500 million in privately placed 30-year Formosa bonds with a 0% coupon last month, Reuters reported, citing two sources. Dubai's main share index edged up 0.1%, with budget airline Air Arabia advancing 3.7%. The state news agency in the UAE, which suspended entry of non-Emirati residents on March 19, said residents with relatives in the country could start returning as of June 1. Qatar's index ended up 0.5%, as Qatar National Bank gained 1.1%. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slipped 0.1%, hurt by a 0.8% fall in oil giant Saudi Aramco ahead of an OPEC+ meeting. OPEC+ producers are considering extending their production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), equivalent to about 10% of global production, into July or August, at an online meeting expected to be held on June 4. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index rose 1%, with most constituents in positive territory and market heavyweight Commercial International Bank up 0.9%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.1% to 7,285 points ABU DHABI gained 2.6%% to 4,277 points DUBAI rose 0.5% to 1,984 points QATAR added 0.5% to 9,067 points EGYPT up 1% to 10,339 points BAHRAIN was flat at 1,270 points OMAN edged up 0.2% to 3,540 points KUWAIT was up 0.4% at 5,462 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up on oil output cuts; Aramco's Q1 profit declines

12 May 2020

* Acquisition of SABIC stake on track - Aramco * Aramco's dividend in line with planned payout for year * IMF approves emergency pandemic aid for Egypt By Ateeq Shariff May 12 Saudi Arabia's stock market rebounded on Tuesday, as investors welcomed Riyadh's commitment to deepen oil output cuts, while Egypt outperformed the region after the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) approved emergency aid to the country. On Monday, the kingdom said it would deepen output cuts in June beyond its quota under the latest OPEC+ deal to help drain a supply glut, prompting a rise in crude prices. Brent crude advanced 90 cents, or 3.04%, to $30.53 at 1150 GMT. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index ended 1.2% up, with petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) climbing 4.1%. Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday that its planned acquisition of a majority stake in SABIC was on track to close in the second quarter. Shares of Aramco were up 1.3% at 31.30 riyals, despite reporting a 25% fall in first-quarter net profit, below analyst estimates. However, Aramco's quarterly dividend was in line with a plan for a $75 billion payout for the year. Net profit fell to 62.48 billion riyals ($16.63 billion) after zakat and tax in the first three months of 2020, from 83.29 billion a year earlier. Egypt's blue-chip index advanced 2.8%, with 28 of 30 stocks on the index rising including Commercial International Bank, which was up 3.2%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday said its executive board approved $2.77 billion in emergency financing to help Egypt grapple with the new coronavirus pandemic that has brought tourism to a standstill and triggered capital flight. In Dubai, the index added 0.5%, helped by a 4.5% leap in Mashreqbank Qatar's index closed up 0.3%. Petrochemical firm Industries Qatar increased 3.9%. SAUDI ARABIA rose 1.2% to 6,684 points ABU DHABI gained 0.3% to 4,134 points DUBAI added 0.5% to 1,892 points QATAR was up 0.3% to 8,892 points EGYPT was up 2.8% to 10,588 points BAHRAIN lost 1.1% to 1,239 points OMAN slipped 0.4% to 3,451 points KUWAIT was down 0.1% at 5,117 points ($1 = 3.7560 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares retreat after govt triples VAT rate

11 May 2020

* All Saudi Arabian banks decline but one * Aramco to announce Q1 earnings on Tuesday * UAE has no plans to follow Saudi in VAT increase By Ateeq Shariff May 11 Saudi Arabia's stock market ended lower on Monday after the kingdom said it will triple value-added tax (VAT) and suspend a cost of living allowance for state workers as it seeks to shore up its finances. The austerity measures are being introduced as the world's largest oil exporter suffers from slumping oil prices, while at the same time measures to fight the new coronavirus outbreak are likely to curb the pace and scale of economic reforms launched by Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman. Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the cost of living allowance would be suspended from June 1, and VAT would be increased to 15% from 5% from July 1. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 1.2%, with Al Rajhi Bank falling 1.5% and National Commercial Bank , the country's largest lender, losing 2.4%. State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco was also down 0.8% ahead of its first-quarter earnings announcement on Tuesday. In Dubai, the index fell 1%, driven by losses in financial shares. Sharia compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank ended down 2.3%, while Emirates NBD Bank lost 0.9%. The Abu Dhabi index closed flat. Aquaculture firm International Holding jumped 9.2%, whereas Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank declined 2%. The lender reported an 84% fall in first-quarter net profit last week as it took $292 million in impairments on debt exposure to troubled hospital operator NMC Health and payments group Finablr. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates was not currently planning to follow Saudi Arabia by raising its VAT rate from 5%, the finance ministry said on Monday. Qatar's index fell 0.5%, hurt by a 7% slide in United Development. Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.4%, with tobacco monopoly Eastern Company climbing 6.3%. SAUDI ARABIA dropped 1.2% to 6,604 points ABU DHABI was flat at 4,121 points DUBAI declined 1% to 1,884 points QATAR eased 0.5% to 8,864 points EGYPT rose 0.4% to 10,296 points BAHRAIN lost 1.3% to 1,252 points OMAN slipped 0.1% to 3,466 points KUWAIT was down 1% at 5,120 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Major Gulf indexes fall alongside subdued global equities

06 May 2020

* Nine of 11 Saudi banks decline * Thob Al Aseel gains on contract * Air Arabia cuts 57 jobs By Ateeq Shariff May 6 Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday as doubts about the easing of coronavirus lockdowns and simmering U.S.-China tensions cast a shadow over global equity markets. U.S. President Donald Trump has kept up the pressure on China, urging the country to be transparent about the origins of the coronavirus, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.8%, with National Commercial Bank, the country's largest lender, falling 2% and Al Rajhi Bank down 0.7%. Moody's on Tuesday affirmed ratings of all Saudi Banks, but changed outlooks to negative. Clothing manufacturer Thob Al Aseel gained 3.3% after signing a 97.5 million riyals ($25.97 million) contract for medical supplies. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports in May are expected to drop to about 6 million barrels per day, the lowest in almost a decade, and domestic refining output is likely to fall as the coronavirus crisis hits demand, Reuters reported citing industry sources and analysts. Dubai's main share index retreated by 0.7%. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties declined 2.3%, while budget airliner Air Arabia slid 3.7%. Air Arabia, the only listed carrier in the United Arab Emirates, has laid off 57 employees due to travel disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The Abu Dhabi index fell 2%, dragged down by a 2.8% drop in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 2.4% fall in telecoms group Etisalat . In Qatar, the index slipped 0.5%, hurt by a 1.9% fall in Qatar Islamic Bank. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index bucked the trend to close 1% up. Commercial International Bank was up 1.5%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.8% to 6,655 points ABU DHABI down 2% to 4,022 points DUBAI lost 0.7% to 1,919 points QATAR eased 0.5% to 8,759 points EGYPT rose 1% to 10,294 points BAHRAIN dropped 0.8% to 1,288 points OMAN slipped 0.6% to 3,473 points KUWAIT was up 0.3% at 5,289 points ($1 = 3.7545 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi index sees biggest daily fall in nearly two months

03 May 2020

By Ateeq Shariff May 3 Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply on Sunday, snapping three sessions of gains as the prospect of more stringent measures to cope with the coronavirus and Moody's downgrading of the kingdom's outlook soured investor sentiment. The kingdom's finance minister on Saturday said the country will take strict and painful measures to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and "all options for dealing with the crisis are open." One measure would be to slow down government projects, including mega-projects, to reduce spending, he said. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index plunged 5.7%, its biggest intraday fall since March 09, weighed down by an 8% drop in Al Rajhi Bank and a 5.2% fall in oil giant Saudi Aramco. Moody's Investors Service cut Saudi Arabia's outlook to "negative" from "stable" on Friday, citing higher fiscal risks due to the crash in oil prices, and uncertainty about the government's ability to offset revenue losses and stabilize its debt in the medium term. "Market is down given the unavoidable austerity measures, depressed economy and fiscal pro-cyclical measures. This is the time to concentrate on saving the domestic economy and that requires massive fiscal support and cutting excess fat inside and acquisitions outside," said John Sfakianakis, senior scholar at the University of Cambridge. "The domestic economy needs to take prescience at all costs now as this is a never seen before crisis of multiple black swans," he added. In Dubai, the index closed 4% down, with Emaar Properties sliding 4.8% after Moody's changed the outlook for the developer to negative from stable. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's revived threat of new U.S. tariffs against China dampened risk appetite. The Abu Dhabi index dropped 3%, as the largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank lost 3.3%. Qatar's index slipped 0.9%, hurt by a 1.4% drop in Qatar Islamic Bank. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 3.3%, with Commercial International Bank falling 2.3%. ** Bahrain was closed for a public holiday. SAUDI ARABIA plunged 7.4% to 6,586 points ABU DHABI declined 3% to 4,107 points DUBAI sank 4% to 1,946 points QATAR eased 0.9% to 8,688 points EGYPT down 3.3% to 10,200 points OMAN was flat at 3,538 points KUWAIT was down 2% at 5,248 points (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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