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Maqsood Alam

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi market extends losing streak, Egypt up again

12 Sep 2019

* Banks weigh as Saudi index falls for third day * Qatar snaps four-day winning streak * Egypt’s Eastern extends gains on dividend * Financials drag on Abu Dhabi By Maqsood Alam Sept 12 Saudi Arabian stocks widened losses on Thursday, having hit an eight-month low in the previous session, while Egypt's blue-chip index rose for a third day after inflation dropped to a multi-year low in August. The Saudi index closed 0.3% down in its third straight day of losses. Riyad Bank shed 1.8% and the kingdom's largest lender, National Commercial Bank, lost 1.2%. The market fell as much as 2.5% on Wednesday, wiping out all its gains this year before clawing back some losses to close 0.4% up in the year to date. With Thursday's losses, the market is now trading only 0.1% higher than the start of the year. It jumped as much as 20% between January and May, led by foreign investors who have been net buyers on the entry of Saudi stocks into the MSCI and FTSE Russell emerging market indexes. However, some Saudi stocks became overvalued, with the kingdom's slowing economy teetering on the brink of contraction, prompting investors to pull most shares down from lofty valuations. Riyadh has been encouraging companies to list on the domestic stock market to deepen Saudi Arabia's capital markets as part of reforms aimed at reducing the kingdom's reliance on oil revenue. The kingdom has experienced a revival in IPOs this year with more are at planning stage, including global oil giant Saudi Aramco , which could generate about $100 billion for Saudi Arabia's state coffers Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.6% up, extending gains for a third day after a fall in consumer price inflation to 7.5% in August, its lowest in years.[ Eastern Co rose 4.1%, adding to the previous day's advance after the board proposed an annual dividend of one Egyptian pound per share. The Dubai index edged up 0.1%, led by gains in financial stocks, with Dubai Islamic Bank adding 0.9%. In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.2% as market heavyweight Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 2.4%. Qatar's index also edged lower, slipping 0.1% to brake a four-session winning streak. Lender Masraf Al Rayan was down 1.1%. SAUDI ARABIA The index was down 0.3% to 7,832 points ABU DHABI The index lost 0.2% to 5,096 points DUBAI The index was up 0.1% to 2,888 points QATAR The index lost 0.1% to 10,462 points EGYPT The index rose 0.6% to 15,110 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.4% at 1,547 points OMAN The index edged up 0.1% to 4,020 points KUWAIT The index was down 0.2% to 6,251 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman )

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

11 Sep 2019

* 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 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 banks." 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 Maclean)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up on passive fund inflows, Abu Dhabi slips

09 Sep 2019

* Dubai's Emaar ends four-day losing streak * Abu Dhabi falls for a third day * Banks, Emirates Telecom weigh on Abu Dhabi * Telecom operators boost Qatar By Maqsood Alam Sept 9 Saudi Arabia's stock exchange recovered from earlier losses to close a touch higher on Monday amid expectations of billions of dollars more in passive fund inflows, while Abu Dhabi fell for a third straight session. The Saudi index inched up 0.1% with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.7% and Riyad Bank gaining 1.5%. The Saudi Stock Exchange expects additional passive funds' inflows worth $3 billion from the remaining phases of inclusion in the FTSE Russell emerging market index starting in September. Three of an eventual five tranches of Saudi stocks have been added to the FTSE emerging-market index so far this year. Saudi gains in 2019 were as high as 20% in May, outperforming most regional markets ahead of the inclusion of Saudi stocks in the MSCI emerging markets index, which attracted billions of dollars from foreign investors. They have been net buyers every month this year. In August, the Saudi exchange completed the second and final phase of joining the MSCI index, raising its weight on the closely-monitored index to 2.8%. However, the index has reduced its gains for the year to 2.7% as the U.S.-China trade dispute and regional geopolitics dampened investor sentiment. Abu Dhabi's index was down 0.6%. Emirates Telecommunications Group dropped 1.2% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank lost 1.9%. Dhabi's index closed 0.3% higher, led by gains in market heavyweight Dubai Islamic Bank which rose 0.8%. Real estate shares, which have been on the back foot in recent sessions, also gained. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rose 0.4%, ending a four-day losing streak. Dubai property prices, having tumbled 25-35% since a mid-2014 peak, are facing further downward pressure and are expected to decline sharply this year and next as a slowdown in the economy and an oversupply of housing units pose big downside risks to their already weak outlook, a Reuters poll found. The Qatari Index also gained 0.3% as telecom operator Ooredoo rose 3.6% and Mesaieed Petrochemical added 2.5%. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.3% with the country's largest lender Commercial International Bank shedding 0.2% and cigarette maker Eastern Co losing 1%. SAUDI ARABIA The index edged up 0.1% to 8,055 points ABU DHABI The index lost 0.6% to 5,076 points DUBAI The index was up 0.3% to 2,879 points QATAR The index was up 0.3% to 10,309 points EGYPT The index was down 0.3% to 14,888 points OMAN The index edged down 0.2% to 3,985 points KUWAIT The index dropped 1.5% to 6,415 points Bahrain The market was closed for a public holiday (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets drop, Dubai leads losses

08 Sep 2019

* Dubai's ENBD snaps four days of gains * Property shares also weak in Dubai * Aldar rises on a residential project launch * Cleopatra Hospital drops on lower Q2 Profit * Egyptian Resort falls as Q2 loss widens By Maqsood Alam Sept 8 Most Gulf markets fell on Sunday, pulled down by financial shares, while Dubai’s stock market unperformed regional peers as its top lender Emirates NBD broke a four-day winning streak. Dubai's index closed 0.7% lower with Emirates NBD falling 2.9%. The bank's shares have risen in recent sessions after NBD raised its foreign ownership limit to 20% from 5% and announced its intention to further hike the limit to 40% in future. Dubai's developers also weighed on the index as DAMAC Properties and contractor Arabtec Holding both shed 1.2%. Dubai house prices are expected to decline sharply this year and next as a slowdown in the economy and an oversupply of housing units pose big downside risks to their already weak outlook, a Reuters poll found. Dubai's property prices have contracted by 25-35% since a mid-2014 peak. In Saudi Arabia, the index reversed course to close roughly flat as financial stocks also slipped back into negative territory. Samba Financial Group and Saudi British Bank both fell 2.4%. The market's 2019 gains were as high as 20% in May, outperforming most regional markets ahead of the inclusion of Saudi stocks in the MSCI that attracted billions of dollars from foreign investors, who have been net buyers every month this year. However, the index has reduced its gains for the year to 2.9% as the U.S.-China trade dispute and regional geopolitics hurt investor sentiment. Middle East funds plan to reduce investment in Saudi Arabia, a Reuters poll showed late last month. In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.2% in a drag led by market heavyweight Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank which lost 1.6%. However, Al Dar properties closed 0.9% up after launching a residential project on the Saadiyat island that it said would be open to all nationalities. This is the first development on the Saadiyat island since the introduction of new laws enabling foreign buyers to own freehold land in investment zones in Abu Dhabi. In April, Abu Dhabi amended its real estate law allowing all foreigners to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis. Qatar's index closed 0.2% higher with blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar and Masraf Al Rayan <MARK.QA > gaining 1.5% and 1.4%, respectively. Egypt’s blue-chip index traded flat amid a couple of weak corporate earnings. Cleopatra Hospital fell 2.7% after posting a 38.7% decline in the second-quarter profit, while Egyptian Resorts lost 1% after reporting a wider loss for the same period. SAUDI ARABIA The index was down 0.05% to 8,051 points ABU DHABI The index lost 0.2% to 5,105 points DUBAI The index fell 0.7% to 2,871 points QATAR The index inched up 0.2% to 10,275 points EGYPT The index was flat at 14,931 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.2% to 1,549 points OMAN The index edged down 0.2% to 3,991 points KUWAIT The index dropped 0.5% to 6,512 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks drag Saudi market lower amid uncertainty over Fed policy

22 Aug 2019

* Eight of 11 Saudi banks fall * Savola extends losses on lower Q2 Profit * DP World closes lower after jumping as much as 5% * Dubai hits to its lowest in a month * Emaar Misr continues to slide after law suit By Maqsood Alam Aug 22 Saudi Arabian stocks were dragged lower by declining financial stocks on Thursday amid uncertainty over Federal Reserve policy following the release of minutes from the Fed's July meeting, while other Gulf markets were mixed. The minutes showed Fed policymakers were divided over whether to cut interest rates last month, but were united in wanting to signal they were not on a preset path to more cuts. Currencies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are pegged to the U.S. dollar and they follow the Fed on interest rate moves. In Saudi Arabia, the index fell 0.7% as Samba Financial Group lost 2.6% and National Commercial Bank slipped 0.8%. Banking stocks have come under pressure in recent weeks from the Saudi central bank's decision to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve in cutting interest rates, which analysts expect to squeeze lenders' profit margins. Saudi Arabia's largest food products company Savola Group fell a further 3.8% a day after it reported 21.7% drop in second-quarter profit. Salama Cooperative Insurance plunged 5.5%, the top loser on the index, after it swung to a second-quarter pre-zakat loss. Dubai’s index was down 0.8% at 2,769 points, its lowest close since July 21. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties slid 2.5%, while Emirates NBD traded 1.3% lower. Nasdaq Dubai-listed port operator DP World rose as much as 5% after reporting 26.8% jump in the first-half profit, before closing 0.4% down as global trade disputes and regional geopolitics continued to weigh on its outlook. Abu Dhabi’s index was flat, with First Abu Dhabi Bank gaining 0.3%. Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) slumped 10%, extending losses to a third straight session after it recalled a batch of its Laxocodyl suppository over a labelling error. Qatar's index rose 0.4% in a boost from market heavyweight Industries Qatar which increased 1.4%. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.2% down. Cigarette maker Eastern Co shed 0.6% and Emaar Misr dropped 1.9%. The developer has been on the back foot since an Egyptian businessman filed a lawsuit claiming part of the land where it is building the sprawling Marassi residential and leisure development on Egypt's North Coast. SAUDI ARABIA The index dropped 0.7% to 8,446 points ABU DHABI The index was flat at 5,039 points DUBAI The index fell 0.8% to 2,769 points QATAR The index gained 0.4% to 9,919 points EGYPT The index slipped 0.2% to 14,333 points BAHRAIN The index edged up 0.1% to 1,533 points OMAN The index rose 1.5% to 3,988 points KUWAIT The index was flat at 6,610 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by David Holmes)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most major Gulf markets fall, banks weigh on Saudi index

21 Aug 2019

* Ten of 11 Saudi banks fall * Emaar Misr continue losses on lawsuit * Julphar falls for second day on drug recall * Savola drops on lower second-quarter profit * Qatar ends winning streak By Maqsood Alam Aug 21 Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Wednesday, with Saudi banking shares pushing that index down the most, amid rising regional geopolitical tensions and ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve events. Tensions in the Middle East remained in focus after the United States said it would take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker sailing in the Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of U.S. sanctions. Adding to the tension was Australia agreeing to join a U.S.-led mission to protect Gulf shipping. Iran denounces the effort and insists countries in the region can protect waterways and work towards signing a non-aggression pact. Elsewhere, focus also shifted to the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's most recent meeting, due on Wednesday, given the currencies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are pegged to the U.S. dollar. In Saudi Arabia the index closed 0.9% lower with Al Rajhi Bank declining 1.3% and Riyad Bank losing 1.5%. The Middle East's largest index was also hit by disappointment over some corporate earnings. Tabuk Agricultural Development lost 5.3% after it swung to a second-quarter loss, while Saudi Fisheries shed 1.5% as its losses widened in the same period. Saudi Arabia's largest food products company, Savola Group, closed 2.5% down after it reported a 21.7% decrease in second-quarter profit. Walaa Cooperative Insurance, which is in merger talks with Metlife AIG ANB, shed 2% after EFG Hermes cut its target price to 11 riyals from 20.8 riyals. In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 0.6% with the United Arab Emirates' largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank slipping 0.4%. Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) lost a further 7% a day after it plunged 9.8%. On Tuesday, the firm said that it recalled a single batch of its Laxocodyl suppository over a labelling error. Egypt's blue-chip index decreased 0.5%, led by a 0.5% fall in its largest lender Commercial International Bank. Emaar Misr plunged 5.7% extending its losses from previous session following a lawsuit filed by an Egyptian businessman against the developer claiming part of the land at the Marassi project. Qatar's index slid 0.2% snapping a three-session winning streak. Petrochemical maker Industries Qatar dropped 2.3% and Barwa Real Estate lost 1.5%. The index has been benefiting since the central bank said last week Qatari economic growth would accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of stable oil prices and continued strong exports. Dubai's index edged up 0.1% as Emirates NBD gained 1.3% and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications increased 1.8%. SAUDI ARABIA The index fell 0.9% to 8,509 points ABU DHABI The index lost 0.6% to 5,041 points DUBAI The index edged up 0.1% to 2,790 points QATAR The index was down 0.2% at 9,877 points EGYPT The index slipped 0.5 % to 14,357 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.2% at 1,532 points OMAN The index rose 1% to 3,929 points KUWAIT The index slid 0.2% at 6,610 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar extends gains as global rally lifts most of Gulf

20 Aug 2019

* Qatar rises for third straight session * Abu Dhabi's Julphar plunges after recalling drug * Arabian Centres gains on first-quarter profit surge * Orascom Development increases on higher Q2 profit * Emaar Misr drops on lawsuit by businessman By Maqsood Alam Aug 20 Most Middle Eastern stock markets closed higher on Tuesday, reflecting market optimism that U.S.-China trade tensions could ease and stimulus measures by major economies to counter a possible global economic slowdown. The United States said it would extend a reprieve that permits China's Huawei Technologies to buy components from U.S. companies, signalling a slight softening of the trade conflict between the world's two largest economies. China's new lending reference rate was set slightly lower on Tuesday, while Germany's right-left coalition government has said it would be prepared to ditch its balanced budget rule and take on new debt to counter a possible recession. Qatar's index rose 0.9% for the third straight day with the Gulf's largest lender, Qatar National Bank increasing 2% and Industries Qatar adding 1.7%. Qatar's index, down 3.6% in the year-to-date, has steadied since the central bank on Thursday said Qatari economic growth would accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of stable oil prices and continued strong exports. In Abu Dhabi, the index increased 0.8% after two days of losses. First Abu Dhabi Bank gained 0.7% while Emirates Telecommunication Group was up 1.2%. But Abu Dhabi’s only listed pharmaceutical firm, Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar), plunged 9.8% after recalling a single batch of its Laxocodyl suppository over a labelling error. In Saudi Arabia, the index extended gains from the previous session to close 0.3% higher in a boost mainly from financial stocks. Samba Financial Group rose 2.8% while Riyad Bank added 1.9%. Arabian Centres jumped as much as 4.3% before closing 0.3% up. The mall operator reported a 180.4% increase in its first-quarter profit to 227 million riyals ($60.53 million), citing lower impairment loss and finance cost. Saudi Telecom added a further 0.7% to its gain on Monday after saying it was working to terminate a broadcasting agreement with General Sport Authority and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, citing a lack of commercial feasibility for the agreement. Egypt's blue-chip index also rose 0.8% as most companies traded higher. Alexandria Mineral Oils surged 8.7%, while Orascom Development gained 2.7% after posting a higher second-quarter profit. But Emaar Misr dropped 1.2% after an Egyptian businessman filed a lawsuit against the developer claiming part of the land at the Marassi project. Back in the Gulf, Dubai's index, closed roughly flat as losses in the telecom sector outweighed the gains of real estate stocks. Emirates Integrated Telecommunications dropped 1.6%. SAUDI ARABIA The index was up 0.3% at 8,590 points ABU DHABI The index gained 0.8% to 5,069 points DUBAI The index slid 0.1% to 2,789 points QATAR The index rose 0.9% to 9,895 points EGYPT The index rose 0.8% to 14,428 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.4% at 1,535 points OMAN The index gained 0.5% to 3,890 points KUWAIT The index added 0.6% to 6,643 points ($1 = 3.7504 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed but Saudi outperforms on banks

19 Aug 2019

* Nine of eleven Saudi banks rise * Saudi Telecom gains on contract termination * Al Yamamah Steel drops after reporting Q3 losses * All but one real estate shares fall in Dubai By Maqsood Alam Aug 19 Saudi Arabian stocks were lifted on Monday as most of its banking shares rose amid rising oil prices, while other Middle Eastern bourses in the region were lacklustre. Crude oil prices rose following a weekend attack on a Saudi oil facility by Yemeni Houthi forces and as traders looked for signs of progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations. Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.5% with Al Rajhi Bank , adding 0.8% and Saudi Telecom increasing 2.4%. The telecommunication firm said it was working to terminate a TV broadcasting agreement with General Sport Authority and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, citing a lack of commercial feasibility for the agreement. Capping the gains was Al Yamamah Steel Industries which lost 3.4% though it reported narrower loss for the third quarter. Qatar's index closed 0.2% up extending gains in the previous session when it ended a three-day losing streak. The index has steadied after the central bank on Thursday said Qatar's economic growth would accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of stable oil prices and continued strong exports.. Among the boosts to the index were Barwa Real Estate gaining 2.7% and Qatar Navigation rising 2.3%. In Abu Dhabi, the index fell for the second consecutive day to close 0.2% down as First Abu Dhabi Bank declined 0.4% and Emirates Telecommunications Group lost 0.5% Dubai's index reversed course to close 0.2% down as Emaar Properties < EMAR.DU> and its unit Emaar Malls dropped 0.8% and 2.1% respectively. In Egypt, the blue-chip index fell 0.7% with Commercial International Bank losing 0.5%. SAUDI ARABIA The index rose 0.5% to 8,566 points ABU DHABI The index lost 0.2% to 5,028 points DUBAI The index was down 0.2% at 2,791 points QATAR The index was up 0.2% at 9,806 points EGYPT The index fell 0.7% to 14,304 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.1% at 1,529 points OMAN The index gained 0.2% to 3,868 points KUWAIT The index was up 0.5% at 6,606 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks slide amid mounting fears of global slowdown

15 Aug 2019

* Egypt ends four days of gains * Financials biggest drag on Egypt, Qatar * Dubai's property shares underperform * Saudi was closed for Eid holiday By Maqsood Alam Aug 15 Most Middle East stock markets dropped on Thursday as disappointing economic signals from China and Europe coupled with an inverted U.S. bond yield curve stoked fears that the global economy was hurtling toward recession. Gross domestic product growth in the 19-country euro zone slowed down to 0.2% in the second quarter, from 0.4% in the first three months of the year, while intensifying U.S. trade war sent China's industrial output growth cooling to a more than 17-year low. Reinforcing the looming global slowdown was the U.S. treasury bond yield inversion, meaning rates on short-term bonds were higher than long-term yields, which is widely seen as signalling recession. The mounting concerns also caused oil prices to shed a further 3%, extending the previous session's 3% drop. Egypt's index closed 1.7% lower ending its four-day winning streak. The index particularly jumped in the previous two sessions on news that the country's headline inflation rate fell to its lowest in nearly four years. Commercial International Bank was down 2% and cigarette maker Eastern Company fell 3.1%. It raised prices of some of its cigarettes by 4.5% to 6%, citing higher labour costs. In Dubai, the index was down 1.3% led by real estate stocks. The emirate's blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shed 1.9% while DAMAC Properties fell 3.2%. The two firms earlier this month reported lower second-quarter profit, hurt by the emirate's slumping property market. The emirate's oversupplied residential real estate market, down by at least a quarter since the middle of 2014, is showing no signs of a recovery. Qatar's index dropped as much as 2.4%, but it clawed back some losses to close 0.6% lower after the central bank said Qatar's economic growth would accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of stable oil prices and continued strong exports. Qatar Insurance and Vodafone Qatar fell 3% and 4.6%, respectively. The Abu Dhabi index was flat as a 1.1% gain in market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank offset losses in real estate sector. Saudi Arabia and Oman remained closed for their week-long Eid holiday and will resume trading from Sunday. ABU DHABI The index was flat at 5,055 points DUBAI The index was down 1.3% at 2,796 points QATAR The index dropped 0.6% to 9,622 points EGYPT The index fell 1.7% to 14,295 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.3% at 1,535 points KUWAIT The index slipped 0.8% at 6,685 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egyptian blue chips surge on inflation beat, robust earnings

08 Aug 2019

* Egypt's blue chips see strongest day in six months * SODIC surges on strong Q2 results * EFG Hermes rises on higher Q2 profit * Saudi Investment Bank plunges after swinging to Q2 loss * Air Arabia climbs on Q2 profit surge By Shakeel Ahmad and Maqsood alam Aug 8 Egyptian blue-chip stocks had their strongest day in nearly six months on Thursday as better-than-expected July inflation data and a host of strong corporate earnings buoyed investors ahead of a three-day religious holiday starting Sunday. Egypt's headline inflation rate fell to its lowest in nearly four years, dropping to 8.7% in July, defying analyst expectations since it followed a fresh round of fuel subsidy cuts that pushed domestic fuel prices up by 16%-30%. "It's great news for the markets because it reinforces hopes of interest rate cuts in August. I think the central bank now has enough room to restart its monetary easing policy going forward," said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem Brokerage. Last month the monetary policy committee kept key interest rates on hold at 15.75% and 16.75% for overnight deposit and lending, respectively. Egypt's unemployment rate also fell to 7.5% in the second quarter of 2019, down from 8.1% in the first quarter. Egypt's blue-chip index rose 2.2%, its biggest single-day gain since February, with Commercial International Bank increasing 1.2%. Investment bank EFG Hermes, which posted a nearly 50% surge in the second-quarter profit, gained 3.5%, while developer SODIC jumped 7.7% after its profit for the same period rose 8.6% and revenue almost doubled. Saudi Arabia's index further gained 0.8% after snapping a five-day losing streak in the last session. Banks led the gains with Riyad Bank adding 3.5% and Saudi British Bank leaping 4.8%. Capping the gains was Saudi Investment Bank which plunged as much as 9.1% to its biggest intraday fall in over a decade before closing down 6.2%, after it swung to a second-quarter loss. Dubai's index closed 0.2% higher with Emaar Properties gaining 1.9% and Air Arabia climbing 3.5% after the budget airline posted a 75% jump in its second-quarter profit. In Abu Dhabi the index, which on Wednesday ended six days of losses, fell back 0.4%. Emirates Telecommunications Group slipped 0.9% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 1.6%. Qatar's index was also down 0.6%. Banks were biggest drag on the index with Commercial Bank dropping 3.6%, while Qatar Gas Transport traded 3.5% lower. Markets will remain shut for much of next week on account of Eid holiday that begins on Sunday and lasts for a week in Saudi Arabia and at least three days in other Gulf countries. SAUDI ARABIA The index rose 0.8% to 8,550 points ABU DHABI The index fell 0.4% to 5,097 points DUBAI The index was up 0.2% to 2,838 points QATAR The index lost 0.6% to 9,835 points EGYPT The index rose 2.2% to 14,180 points BAHRAIN The index was flat at 1,544 points OMAN The index gained 0.6% to 3,862 points KUWAIT The index was down 0.4% at 6,719 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Additional reporting by Nadine Awadalla Editing by Frances Kerry)

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