MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
Gulf stock markets mostly fell yesterday because of weak oil prices, while a slide of shares in Orascom Telecom Media dragged down Egypt’s bourse.
Brent crude oil tumbled more than 2 percent at one stage in Asian trade to below $44 a barrel, though it later recovered above that mark. The Saudi stock index, which had surged 2.1 percent on Sunday, fell back 0.4 percent. Top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries added 0.9 percent. But many banks fell with Al Rajhi losing 1.9 percent.
Emaar Economic City rose sharply in early trade but closed 4.2 percent lower. It had jumped 9.1 percent on Sunday after it said authorities, who have been investigating how the firm acquired land in the industrial zone which it is developing, would let it keep the land to protect the interests of investors. The Saudi market’s losses increased during the day after Saudi Arabia’s cabinet said it had decided to impose an annual 2.5 percent fee on undeveloped urban land designated for residential or commercial use, in an effort to deter hoarding of land and resolve a shortage of affordable housing.
Real estate developer Dar Al Arkan dropped 2.3 percent; although it is still unclear how the tax will be applied, some investors fear the value of the company’s land bank could decrease as a result of the tax. But builder Al-Khodari, which could benefit if housing construction increases, added 1.4 percent.
Dubai’s index dropped 1.1 percent as real estate and construction firms slid, with Union Properties losing 3.1 percent. The euro hit a sevenmonth low against the United Arab Emirates dirham yesterday - negative news for foreign investment in the UAE property market.
Qatar’s index fell 1.5 percent as drilling rig provider Gulf International Services slipped 2.5 percent. Egypt’s index opened higher but closed 2.4 percent lower. Orascom Telecom Media, the most heavily traded stock, sank 7.6 percent to 0.61 Egyptian pound after saying on Sunday it was removing its North Korean unit Koryolink from its consolidated financial statements because sanctions against Pyongyang had affected its ability to operate there.
EFG Hermes said it was cutting its rating of the stock to sell from neutral with fair value at 0.53 pound. Qalaa Holdings fell 4.6 percent after saying its subsidiary Mashreq Petroleum was in negotiations with the General Authority of the Suez Canal Economic Zone to terminate a contract to build, operate and transfer a liquid bulk station at East Port Said.
Orascom Construction dropped 3.6 percent after reporting third-quarter earnings and saying it would distribute a total cash dividend of $0.36 per share in 2016, implying a yield of 5.1 percent based on its NASDAQ Dubai closing price of $7.0 per share on Nov. 22. The Dubai-listed shares rose 2.9 percent, however. —Reuters