Edition:
United Kingdom

Karina Dsouza

Majestic Wine falls on Chairman exit, lack of details on sale of stores

13 Jun 2019

Shares in Majestic Wine fell on Thursday following the abrupt departure of its chairman and as a lack of details about the sale of its retail outlets and a dividend suspension spooked investors.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi slides on blue-chip weakness, Egypt hit by sell-off

20 May 2019

* Zahrat Al Waha , Leejam Sports fall after trading ex-dividend * U.S.-Iran tensions weigh on Saudi sentiment - analyst * SODIC posts standalone net loss in Q1 By Karina Dsouza May 20 Saudi Arabia's stock market slipped on Monday as investors cut positions in blue-chip stocks amid lingering uncertainty from regional tensions, while a wide sell-off pulled down Egypt's blue-chip share index. Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.7%, pressured by weakness in key banking and petrochemical shares. Al Rajhi Bank fell 0.7% and Saudi Basic Industries was off by 1.3%. Saudi Arabia's central bank said on Sunday it had fined 16 financial institutions, including Al Rajhi Bank, for violating principles of responsible finance. Zahrat Al Waha For Trading and Leejam Sports Co dropped 3.7% and 0.8% respectively. Shares of both the companies traded ex-dividend. The Saudi index has been trading choppy in the last week, gaining on MSCI's decision to include MSCI Saudi Arabia in its emerging markets index but hurt by geopolitical tensions between Iran and the United States. "Under the current market scenario, Saudi stocks have been lower due to underperformance in real estate, hotel and tourism, and agriculture and food production sectors," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments. "The country's proximity to the escalating tensions between Iran and U.S. has weighed down on sentiment, with similar scenarios across the region including the UAE," added Kapadia. Egypt's blue-chip index was down 1%, losing for a fourth straight day, with 23 of its 30 stocks sliding. El Sewedy Electric fell 3.1% and Commercial International Bank slid 0.6%. Sixth Of October Development and Investment fell 3.2% after the real estate developer reported a standalone net loss in its first-quarter compared to a profit a year earlier. Qatar's index was up 0.3% with Gulf International Services and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co rising 10% each. Abu Dhabi's index ended flat. Axa Green Crescent Insurance Co dropped 10% and Gulf Medical Projects Co dipped 3.3%. The latter posted a 28.3% fall in its net profit for the first quarter. The Dubai index edged 0.3% lower, pressured by its financial stocks. Commercial Bank of Dubai dropped 8.8% while Amlak Finance dropped 5.2%. The index has dipped 0.7% this year, with a 9.2% fall since the beginning of May amid low trading during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and rising geopolitical tensions. SAUDI ARABIA The index fell 0.7% at 8,469 points ABU DHABI The index was flat at 4,733 points DUBAI The index slid 0.3% at 2,513 points QATAR The index added 0.3% to 9,899 points EGYPT The index fell 1% to 13,379 points BAHRAIN The index slid 0.2% at 1,396 points OMAN The index dipped 0.4% at 3,845 points KUWAIT The index was flat at 6,007 points (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi market edges higher in choppy trade after drone attacks

14 May 2019

* Saudi Arabia "can be tipped by smallest signs of a conflict" -analyst * Dubai snaps 7-day losing streak * Abu Dhabi sinks to worst day in more than 3 years * Aldar Properties posts higher Q1 development sales By Karina Dsouza and Davide Barbuscia May 14 Saudi Arabia's stock market was choppy on Tuesday after an announcement by the government on armed drones attacking oil pumping stations in Riyadh wiped out early gains. Saudi stocks nudged higher, then went into reverse and closed up just 0.1 percent. The index fell as much as 2.1% after Saudi Arabia said drones had struck oil pumping stations two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Shares rose 2% in early deals after falling nearly 3.6% on Monday. "With rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive officer of Sun Global Investments. A Saudi-based banker said government funds were supporting local stocks to limit the downside. Last year sources told Reuters that when the market was hit in the aftermath of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund had indirectly supported the market using local institutions. Al Alamiya and Al Baha Investment and Development tumbled 9.8% and 8.8%, respectively, while heavyweights Riyad Bank slipped 2% and Saudi Telecom fell 2.2%. In Dubai, the index climbed 3.5% percent, breaking a seven-day losing streak thanks partly to a 5% gain in real estate firm Emaar Properties and its units Emaar Malls and Emaar Development . Emaar Malls was up 13.8%, while Emaar Development gained 8%. MSCI maintained its decision to keep the two real estate firms in the standard index. Aldar Properties, the largest property developer in Abu Dhabi, added 2.4% after it reported a rise in its first-quarter development sales. Abu Dhabi's index fell 2.6%, in its worst day in more than three years. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, dropped 8.6% after index provider MSCI decided against increasing FAB's foreign inclusion factor. "MSCI has surprisingly decided to maintain FAB's weight in the index, despite the recent foreign ownership limit increase," said Jaap Meijer, head of equity research, at Arqaam Capital. Despite FAB's increase to its foreign ownership limit to 40% from 25%, MSCI has chosen to remain conservative as there has been no information on the sale of stakes held by the ruling family, Meijer added. Egypt's blue-chip index, was up 0.9% with Cairo For Investment and Real Estate Development added 3.6% after CI Capital started coverage on the stock with an 'overweight' rating, citing favorable industry dynamics. Kuwait's index dropped 1.3%, with 17 of 19 stocks in the index trading in negative territory. Integrated Holding slipped 5.5% after posting a fall in net profit for its first-quarter. SAUDI ARABIA The index was up 0.1% at 8,374 points ABU DHABI The index dropped 2.6% at 4,803 points DUBAI The index rose 3.5% at 2,613 points QATAR The index added 0.6% to 9,799 points EGYPT The index rose 0.8% to 14,024 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.5 pct at 1,408 points OMAN The index dipped 0.3% at 3,828 points KUWAIT The index lost 1.3% at 5,999 points (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru Editing by Gareth Jones)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Global trade tensions, Ramadan dent appetite for Gulf stocks

08 May 2019

* 29 of 30 stocks in Egypt fall * Emaar Misr falls on lower Q1 results * Financials lift Kuwait index * Middle East Paper slides to 1-year low on Q1 results By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan May 8 The Egyptian blue-chip index slid sharply to its worst day in six months on Wednesday, mirroring weak global sentiment, while Saudi Arabia's index fell, pressured by global tensions and investors retreating from markets during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egypt's blue-chip index fell 2.5 percent, with 29 out of 30 stocks trading in the red. Egypt's largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt fell 0.7 percent, while Egyptian Iron & Steel plunged 9.9 percent. Property developer Emaar Misr For Development fell 4.7 percent after reporting a 16.8 percent fall in its first-quarter net profit. Oil prices stabilised as markets remained relatively tight amid U.S. sanctions on crude exporters Iran and Venezuela, while global shares dipped to a near five-week low amid renewed trade tensions between U.S. and China. "The sell-off across the region is mainly due to deteriorating sentiment globally following Trump's China tariffs announcement. Most global equity markets witnessed broad-based sell-offs and our (Gulf) region was not spared," said Nadi Bargouti, head of asset management at Shuaa Capital. "Unfortunately, recent geopolitical developments are adding to investor anxiety and applying more pressure on regional markets," Bargouti added. The Saudi index was down 0.8 percent. The country's second-largest lender by assets, Al Rajhi Bank, lost 2 percent and Riyad Bank shed 1 percent. Middle East Paper Co fell 6.6 percent to its lowest in more than a year after reporting a 79.3 percent plunge in first-quarter net profit, citing a drop in selling prices. Takween Advanced Industries slid 2.6 percent as its first-quarter net loss widened. The Qatar index was down for the fourth straight day, falling 1.3 percent, with 18 of the 20 stocks declining. Heavyweights Industries Qatar and Commercial Bank fell 2.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Locally, Ramadan is a factor that underlines the sell-off across Gulf markets, when volumes slow down and with that any selling pressure gets aggravated, said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital. "Note that investors have made decent returns this year and it is not surprising they are taking some money off the table," Bhandari added. Dubai's index was down 0.5 percent, with pressure from its real estate firms. DAMAC Properties and Emaar Properties fell 2.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Amlak Finance lost 1.5 percent after it reported a loss for the first-quarter compared to a profit a year earlier. Abu Dhabi's index closed flat. Abu Dhabi National Hotels jumped 14.7 percent in light trade. Earlier this week, the company posted higher first-quarter operating revenue. Kuwait's index was the only major Gulf market in the positive territory, adding 0.9 percent with Zain Kuwait and National Industries Group gaining 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. SAUDI ARABIA The index fell 0.8 pct at 8,900 points ABU DHABI The index was flat at 5,124 points DUBAI The index slid 0.5 pct at 2,713 points QATAR The index lost 1.3 pct at 10,123 points EGYPT The index fell 2.5 pct to 14,027 points BAHRAIN The index dipped 0.1 pct at 1,441 points OMAN The index fell 0.7 pct at 3,875 points KUWAIT The index gained 0.9 pct at 6,365 points (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil, geopolitical tensions weigh on Saudi; most Gulf markets down

07 May 2019

* Alawwal Bank falls on lower Q1 results * Islamic Arab Insurance drags on Dubai index * Kuwait jumps ahead of MSCI decision * Lender ADCB weighs on Abu Dhabi By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan May 7 Saudi Arabia's stock market fell on Tuesday for the fourth straight day, weakened by a combination of lower oil prices and geopolitical tension in the Middle East, while Egypt's blue-chip index was buoyed by its largest lender. The Saudi index was down 0.8 percent. The country's second-largest lender by assets Al Rajhi Bank lost 1.1 percent and National Commercial Bank shed 2.3 percent. Alawwal Bank eased 1.8 percent after reporting a fall in its first-quarter net profit due to higher costs. Oil prices fell as renewed doubts over U.S.-China trade talks stoked concerns over global growth, while the United States said on Sunday it was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to troubling "indications and warnings" from Iran. "A combination of lower oil prices, regional instability, U.S. sending carriers to the Gulf will have a negative effect on the regional markets and in particularly Saudi as it is the most looked at market currently," Rami Jamal, portfolio manager at Amwal in Doha said. Egypt's blue-chip index rose 1.3 percent, with its largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt adding 2.8 percent. The firm posted an increase in first-quarter net profit, aided by strong net interest margins and deposits. Eastern Co rose 1.4 percent after saying it would launch a new Black Massal product and expected Black Massal sales to rise by 50 percent from current levels. Kuwait's blue chip index added 1.9 percent with Zain Kuwait and National Bank of Kuwait gaining 2.7 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Last week, Zain Kuwait reported a 15 percent rise in first-quarter net profit helped by strong growth in Bahrain and Iraq. The index is on MSCI's watch list for a potential upgrade to emerging market status by mid-June. Kuwait's weight in the emerging market index could reach about 0.51 percent which will result in $2.5 billion of passive inflows, Jaap Meijer, head of equity research at Arqaam Capital said. The country has seen strong foreign interest over the past year on the back of its FTSE emerging market inclusion last year and the potential upcoming MSCI re-classification, Meijer added. The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.4 percent, with Abu Dhabi Commerical Bank shedding 3.7 percent after reporting first-quarter results. The bank, which formalised a merger with two other lenders last week, reported a 5 percent fall in first-quarter profit, hurt by lower interest income. Gulf Cement dropped 6.1 percent, while First Abu Dhabi Bank , the largest in the United Arab Emirates, dipped 0.3 percent. In Dubai, the index traded 0.3 percent lower, with Islamic Arab Insurance down 7.3 percent and the top loser after denying talks of a merger. Property firm Emaar Development fell 1.9 percent. The company reported a 8.3 percent drop in its first-quarter net profit. The Qatar index was down 0.4 percent, with Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding dropping 2.8 percent. Qatar National Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank slipped 1.3 percent and 1 percent, respectively. SAUDI ARABIA The index fell 0.8 pct to 8,969 points ABU DHABI The index dipped 0.4 pct to 5,124 points DUBAI The index was 0.3 pct lower at 2,726 points QATAR The index lost 0.4 pct to 10,251 points EGYPT The index rose 1.3 pct to 14,390 points BAHRAIN The index rose 0.3 pct to 1,442 points OMAN The index dipped 0.1 pct to 3,901 points KUWAIT The index gained 1.9 pct to 6,310 points (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi hit by profit-taking, financials drag major Gulf markets

06 May 2019

* Seera Group tumbles on lower Q1 net-profit * 24 of 30 stocks on Egypt's index fall * Egypt's El Sewedy, SODIC slide on trading ex-dividend * Dubai's RAK Properties drops after Q1 results By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan May 6 Saudi Arabia's stock market fell on Monday to its lowest point in eight months, hurt by profit-taking in its banks, while most major Middle Eastern markets also slid sharply. The Saudi index was down 1.5 percent, weakened by financial and petrochemical stocks. Its biggest lender, National Commercial Bank, decreased 1.9 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi lost 4.3 percent. Oil prices tumbled after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would sharply raise tariffs on Chinese goods this week. Yanbu National Petrochemicals and Advanced Petrochemicals fell 2 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. Travel operator Seera Group fell 5.2 percent after posting a 40 percent drop in its first-quarter net profit, citing competitive pricing and higher costs. "The interest rate is unlikely to rise, business volumes are likely to be low as we enter Ramadan period, and now weaker crude prices present an ideal gain booking opportunity," analyst Chiro Ghosh at SICO said in Bahrain. The deep sell-off in the financial sector was profit-taking by investors who had made reasonable gains, Ghosh added. Last week, Saudi local investors were net sellers of stocks, representing 85.8 percent of total selling activity, while foreign investors were net buyers, according to stock exchange data. The Egyptian blue-chip index dropped 2.1 percent, with 24 of its 30 stocks declining. El Sewedy Electric plunged 8.1 percent and developer Sixth Of October Development And Investment Co (SODIC) dropped 4.4 percent as the stocks traded ex-dividend. Non-Arab foreign investors were the net buyers in Monday's session, while Arab investors were the net sellers, according to stock exchange data. Egyptian Chemical Industries (Kima) was down 6.7 percent. The company reported an 81.7 percent fall in net profit for the nine-month period, while Emaar Misr For Development dropped 6.8 percent after posting a fall in its first-quarter net profit. "Kima's results are weak, falling short of our estimates by a considerable margin, as the company continued to face hurdles to export its output to Sudan and Turkey," NAEEM Brokerage in a note. Qatar's blue-chip index slid 1.6 percent, pressured by financial stocks. Qatar Fuel and Qatar First Bank fell 3.9 percent and 3.8 percent, receptively. The index has risen only 0.2 percent year-to-date, making it one of the worst performing Gulf markets this year. Out of 10 fund managers polled, most said they would keep their investments in Qatar at the same level, while 40 percent said they would reduce them, according to a Reuters poll last week. The Abu Dhabi index slipped 1.5 percent, with Finance House and National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain falling 10 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively. The latter reported a fall in its total income for the first-quarter. Property developer RAK Properties shed 1.8 percent after it reported an 84 percent slump in first-quarter net profit. In Dubai, the index traded 0.7 percent, with Dubai Investments sliding 1.5 percent after a 44 percent drop in its first-quarter net profit. Islamic insurers Dar Al Takaful and Islamic Arab Insurance fell 7.7 percent and 4.2 percent respectively. SAUDI ARABIA The index fell 1.5 pct at 9,043 points ABU DHABI The index was down 1.5 pct at 5,146 points DUBAI Index slid 0.7 pct at 2,733 points QATAR The index lost 1.6 pct to 10,297 points EGYPT The index fell 2.1 pct to 14,205 points BAHRAIN The index added 0.1 pct at 1,438 points OMAN The index fell 0.7 pct at 3,905 points KUWAIT The index was up 0.3 pct at 6,191 points (Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Weaker France and China demand weigh on InterContinental

03 May 2019

InterContinental Hotels Group Plc said fewer people checked into its hotels in the first quarter due to lower demand in China, South Korea and France.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar hits 3 month high, financials weigh on Abu Dhabi

02 May 2019

* Gulf International at 3-month high on drilling contract * United Arab Bank slides after Q1 results * Emaar Properties gains on unit's project * Saudi Basic Industries falls on brokerage action By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan May 2 Qatar's stock market closed at a three-month high on Thursday, buoyed by drilling rig provider Gulf International Services, while the Abu Dhabi index was pressured by financial shares. The Qatar index rose 0.8 percent, with Gulf International Services jumping 10 percent after its unit was awarded contracts by Qatar Petroleum to provide six offshore drilling rigs. Brokerage firm QNB Financial Services raised its rating on the stock to 'outperform' from 'accumulate', citing its ability to secure contracts for six rigs out of a total deal size of eight. "Our preliminary sense is a material uplift in earnings from 2020 onward and we consequently raise our earnings estimated by an average of 28 percent over 2020-2023," QNB said in a note. The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.3 percent, with United Arab Bank sliding 4.2 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) losing 0.5 percent. United Arab Bank posted a nearly 40 percent drop in its first-quarter net profit, while ADCB began trading on Wednesday as a newly formed entity after completing a three-way merger with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank. Dubai's index added 0.3 percent, helped by a 2.4 percent rise by Emaar Properties and a 2.9 percent gain in Dubai Investments. Emaar's unit Emaar Development began a 25 billion dirham ($6.81 billion) coastal building project in Dubai. But the stock fell 4.9 percent as it traded ex-dividend. "I think Emaar Developments will do better than most real estate developers in Dubai because it has de facto state backing, which makes it harder for the competition," said Khaled Abdel Majeed, Managing Partner at MENA Capital. The company is facing headwinds from oversupply in its core Dubai market, Majeed said, adding that the valuation is reasonable but macro and political challenges are "significant". The Saudi Arabian index fell 0.3 percent, with Gulf Union Cooperative Insurance declining 4.8 percent after actuaries recommended an increase in its technical reserves of 27.5 million riyals ($7.33 million). Market heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries dropped 1.3 percent after HSBC cut its target price and rating on the stock. Egypt's blue-chip index slid 0.3 percent, as its biggest stocks Eastern Co and Commercial International Bank lost 4.2 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. On Tuesday, Eastern Co posted a drop in its nine-month net profit. Kuwait's blue chip index added 1.4 percent, with Mabanee Company and Burgan Bank gaining 3.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Mabanee posted a 13 percent rise in its first-quarter profit. SAUDI The index fell 0.3 pct to 9,337 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index dropped 0.3 pct to 5,243 points DUBAI The index was up 0.3 pct to 2,759 points QATAR The index added 0.8 pct to 10,481 points EGYPT The index slid 0.3 pct to 14,880 points BAHRAIN The index added 0.1 pct at 1,435 points OMAN The index was flat at 3,965 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.4 pct at 6,126 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement makers stir Saudi stock rally, Dubai slips

01 May 2019

* Emaar Properties hits 1-month low as trades ex-div * All Saudi cement producers gain in 2-day rally * ADCB falls on first day of trading as new co * Egypt, Bahrain closed for public holiday By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan May 1 Saudi Arabia's stock market gained on Wednesday, lifted for a second session by a results-driven rally in cement producers, while Dubai's slipped after Emaar Properties traded ex-dividend and its shares hit a one-month low. Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.6 percent, with Umm Al Qura Cement the top gainer with a 9.9 percent leap after reporting a significant rise in first-quarter net profit. Most Saudi cement producers gained for the second straight day after strong first-quarter results, driven by higher selling prices and volume. All 14 cement producers were trading in positive territory, with Southern Province Cement adding 9.8 percent and Northern Region Cement gaining 8.1 percent. There is a positive view on the cement sector due to expectations of a rise in demand as construction picks up, especially in mega projects, Riyad Capital's Muhammad Faisal Potrik said. Dubai's index slid 0.6 percent, with Emaar Properties falling 3.3 percent to a one-month low as the stock traded ex-dividend. Air Arabia slid 2 percent after the budget airline said it is likely to order 100 or more Airbus or Boeing jets within the next three to four months. The Abu Dhabi index traded flat, reversing some early losses. ADNOC Distribution, the fuel distribution arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), gained 1.2 percent after reporting a 6.6 percent rise in its first-quarter profit. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) closed 1.8 percent lower on its first trading day as a new entity following its three-way merger with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank to create the third biggest bank in the UAE. ADCB touched a 13 year high as of Tuesday's close, ahead of its effective merger date. "The combined bank will face operational challenges in the beginning, so we prefer to stay on the side until we see a fully operational entity," Tariq Qaqish, MD, Asset Management Division, Mena Corp Financial Services said. "As medium to long term investors, we would wait and see the outcome of the synergy kicking in," he added. Qatar's blue-chip index edged up 0.2 percent, helped by Doha Bank and Gulf International Services gaining 2.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. The latter, a drilling rig provider, posted higher first-quarter net profit. Egypt and Bahrain's stock market was closed due to a public holiday. SAUDI ARABIA The index was up 0.6 pct at 9,362 points ABU DHABI The index ended flat at 5,258 points DUBAI The index fell 0.6 pct at 2,752 points QATAR The index added 0.2 pct at 10,400 points OMAN The index gained 0.5 pct at 3,966 points KUWAIT The index fell 0.1 pct at 6,044 points ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Bank dents Abu Dhabi as cement makers strengthen Saudi index

30 Apr 2019

* First Abu Dhabi Bank skids on quarterly results * Most of 14 listed Saudi cement companies rise * Gulf International Services gains on results * El Sewedy Electric lifted by subsidiary's contract By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan April 30 The Abu Dhabi stock market fell sharply on Tuesday, dragged down by First Abu Dhabi Bank(FAB), while the Saudi index was lifted by its cement producers. Abu Dhabi's index dropped 1.4 percent as First Abu Dhabi, the UAE's largest bank, shed 2.4 percent after reporting first-quarter results. The lender posted a rise in first-quarter profit but customer deposits and net interest margins fell while expenses rose. "Overall numbers were in line, though it would have been good to see a beat, as the stock trades at rich valuations," said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital said. Bhandari said a 7 percent decline in net interest income was not expected. "In general, we see this as an excuse for investors to cut market exposure before Ramadan," Bhandari added. Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.3 percent, with Gulf General Cooperative Insurance jumping 7.1 percent to end as the top gainer after the company's board proposed a capital increase of 300 million riyals ($80 million) through a rights issue. There were gains for 12 of 14 cement producers after Yamama Cement posted strong first-quarter results, driven by an increase in sales volumes and prices. Yamama Cement was up by 5.6 percent. "We have had a positive view on the cement sector based on expectations of a rise in cement demand as construction picks up, especially in mega projects," Riyad Capital's Muhammad Faisal Potrik said, adding that he expects cement demand to rise in the second half. Dubai's index added 0.3 percent to snap a five-day losing streak, partly lifted by a 2.1 percent gain in real estate company Emaar Properties and its Emaar Development business, which gained 0.5 percent. Qatar's blue-chip index edged up by 0.2 percent, helped by Gulf International Services and Industries Qatar. Drilling rig provider Gulf International increased 2.7 percent after posting higher first-quarter net profit, while Industries Qatar firmed by 1.4 percent. The Egyptian index rose 1 percent, partly supported by largest lender Commercial International Bank (COMI) gaining 3.1 percent to touch its highest in nearly a year. El Sewedy Electric increased 1.2 percent after a subsidiary signed a 445 million Egyptian pound ($25.9 million) contract to build a substation and transmission line. SAUDI ARABIA The index rose 0.3 pct at 9,304 points ABU DHABI The index fell 1.4 pct at 5,258 points DUBAI The index rose 0.3 pct at 2,767 points QATAR The index added 0.2 pct to 10,377 points EGYPT The index rose 1 pct to 14,920 points BAHRAIN The index fell 0.2 pct to 1,434 points OMAN The index rose 0.3 pct to 3,946 points KUWAIT The index added 0.1 pct at 6,047 points ($1 = 3.7501 riyals) ($1 = 17.1700 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

World News

Iran shoots down U.S. military drone in Gulf region

Iran on Thursday shot down a U.S. military drone that it said was flying over one of its southern provinces on the Gulf, increasing fears of military conflict as Washington seeks to isolate Tehran over its nuclear and regional activities.