MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
Saudi Arabia’s stock market ended a nine-day rising streak yesterday as banking shares were hit by profit taking, while bourses in the rest of the region were mixed.
The Saudi stock index had surged 10.1 percent over the nine trading days through Monday, led by banks, after Riyadh’s huge international bond issue reduced jitters about the economy’s ability to cope with low oil prices and began to ease tight banking system liquidity. Yesterday, however, the index retreated 0.3 percent as the banking sector pulled back 0.6 percent. The biggest lender, National Commercial Bank, closed flat at 43.80 riyals.
The petrochemical sector, the market’s other big sector, fell 0.8 percent after oil prices dropped overnight. Most shares gaining ground were second- or third-tier stocks favored by local retail speculators, such as Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance, which was up 1.3 percent.
The replacement overnight of veteran finance minister Ibrahim Alassaf with Mohammed Al-Jadaan, previously chairman of the Capital Market Authority, had no significant impact on the market. Alassaf carried out sharp spending cuts in the past year but austerity is expected to continue under Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees economic policy.
Dubai’s stock index dropped 0.3 percent as real estate blue chip Emaar Properties lost 1.6 percent. But Dubai Investments gained 1.5 percent after reporting a 35.9 percent rise in third-quarter net profit to 334.4 million dirhams ($91 million). Abu Dhabi’s index was flat and Qatar rose 0.3 percent as property firm Ezdan Holding jumped 3.5 percent; it had edged down to a seven-month low on Monday after reporting a flat third-quarter profit.
In Egypt, the index climbed 0.7 percent but foreign investors were net sellers by a large margin for a second straight day because of speculation that a major currency devaluation could be imminent, given the Egyptian pound’s plunge in the black market.
Property developer Amer Group Holding climbed to 0.25 pound from 0.24 pound after reporting a rise in third-quarter consolidated net profit to 76.3 million pounds ($8.6 million) from 43.6 million pounds a year ago. Egyptians for Housing Development and Reconstruction Co jumped 6.5 percent after saying a block trade of 5.175 million of its shares had been executed. —Reuters