MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
Strength in second-tier stocks favoured by local retail investors boosted Saudi Arabia’s stock market yesterday, while foreign buying helped Egypt partially rebound from a drop on Sunday and most other Middle East bourses fell.
Saudi Arabia’s index climbed 0.9 percent to 6,904 points, rising above major technical resistance on its April peak of 6,876 points. A second consecutive close above that level would be very bullish technically and point to the index reaching around 8,400 points in the long term. The Saudi market has been strong since the kingdom’s $17.5 billion international bond issue in late October partly eased concern about Riyadh’s ability to cope with an era of cheap oil.
Banks and petrochemicals led the market in the initial stages of its rally, but underperformed on Monday with activity focused on unusually heavy trade in second-tier stocks such as Tabuk Agricultural Development Co, which was up 6.2 percent. Real estate developer Jabal Omar gained 4.2 percent after saying it had ended a contract with builder Saudi Binladin Group, settling an outstanding 196 million riyal ($52.3 million) debt to Binladin by transferring to it ownership of units in a project. One blue chip which rose sharply was real estate developer Dar Al Arkan, the most heavily traded stock, which surged 4.4 percent. The mood was more subdued elsewhere, with little fresh corporate news to spur buying. Dubai’s index fell 0.8 percent as Union Properties, the most heavily traded stock, pulled back 4.6 percent after Sunday’s 11.4 percent rise. Abu Dhabi’s index dropped 1.0 percent as telecommunications blue chip Etisalat fell 1.4 percent, while Qatar slipped 0.5 percent as Qatar National Bank lost 1.1 percent. Kuwait’s index edged up 0.1 percent, showing little initial reaction to parliamentary elections at the weekend in which opposition candidates were estimated to have won around 20 seats out of 50. But Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said the opposition’s strong showing might dampen Kuwait’s growth in the medium term, since major economic projects could be delayed by political friction.
“These results point to the possibility of a more contentious relationship between the government and the National Assembly than was seen between 2013 and 2016, when the opposition was a minority,” she wrote. The Egyptian index, which had tumbled 1.8 percent on Sunday as its rally in response to the Nov. 3 float of the Egyptian pound lost steam, rebounded 1.0 percent on Monday.
Exchange data showed foreign investors were net buyers to the tune of about $11 million, an unusually large margin. Raya Holding for Financial Investment jumped 8.1 percent after saying it was close to finalizing an agreement for Egyptian Gulf Bank to take a 20 percent stake in its new Aman e-payments unit. — Reuters