MIDEAST STOCK MAR­KETS

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Saudi Ara­bia's stock mar­ket gave up early gains by the close yes­ter­day as oil prices pulled back, while other Gulf bourses were mixed. Profit-tak­ing pulled Egypt' mar­ket lower af­ter big gains this month. The Saudi in­dex has soared over 25 per­cent - al­most en­tirely eras­ing its losses this year - since the gov­ern­ment's $17.5 bil­lion in­ter­na­tional bond is­sue in late Oc­to­ber eased fears about its abil­ity to cope with an era of cheap oil, and helped it be­gin mak­ing de­layed pay­ments to set­tle its debts to pri­vate com­pa­nies.

In early trade yes­ter­day the in­dex rose as much as 0.7 per­cent. But Brent crude oil fell around 2 per­cent to be­low $47.50 a bar­rel yes­ter­day af­ter­noon on signs that oil ex­porters were strug­gling to agree a deal to cut pro­duc­tion. This pulled the stock in­dex down 0.1 per­cent in ac­tive trade to 6,897 points at the close. It failed to con­firm a clear break of ma­jor tech­ni­cal re­sis­tance on the April peak of 6,876 points. The bank­ing and petro­chem­i­cal sec­tors, which led the mar­ket up dur­ing most of its re­bound this month, un­der­per­formed yes­ter­day; banks dropped 0.3 per­cent and petro­chem­i­cals lost 0.6 per­cent.

Much ac­tiv­ity fo­cused on smaller stocks with re­tailer Jarir Mar­ket­ing, beaten down ear­lier this year by eco­nomic slow­down due to low oil prices, jump­ing 6.1 per­cent. Cen­tral bank data showed cash with­drawals from au­to­mated teller ma­chines edged up in Oc­to­ber, sug­gest­ing cuts to pub­lic em­ploy­ees' fi­nan­cial al­lowances might not be hurting con­sump­tion as much as some an­a­lysts had feared.

In­surance stocks fa­vored by lo­cal re­tail spec­u­la­tors also surged yes­ter­day, with Al Ra­jhi Taka­ful up 3.9 per­cent. Spec­u­la­tive ac­tiv­ity in small caps also sup­ported mar­kets in the United Arab Emi­rates. Dubai's in­dex rose 0.7 per­cent as Dubai In­vest­ments surged 3.2 per­cent. Loss-mak­ing construction firm Arabtec climbed 2.3 per­cent af­ter it ap­pointed Hamish Tyr­whitt as new chief ex­ec­u­tive; Tyr­whitt was CEO of Aus­tralian con­trac­tor Leighton Hold­ings, since re­branded CIMIC Group, be­tween 2011 and 2014.

Abu Dhabi's in­dex edged up 0.1 per­cent, buoyed by banks, with Abu Dhabi Com­mer­cial Bank adding 1.8 per­cent. Qatar's in­dex fell 0.5 per­cent, as Qatar Na­tional Bank slipped 3.7 per­cent. Egypt's in­dex fell 0.9 per­cent as prof­ittak­ing re­sumed af­ter its 37 per­cent jump in the weeks af­ter the Nov 3 float of the Egyp­tian pound. But Ara­bia In­vest­ments jumped 7.1 per­cent af­ter its nine-month con­sol­i­dated net loss shrank to 10.3 mil­lion Egyp­tian pounds ($572,000) from a year-ear­lier loss of 11 mil­lion pounds, while op­er­at­ing rev­enues rose. Ex­change data showed for­eign in­vestors re­mained net buy­ers of Egyp­tian stocks yes­ter­day, by a modest mar­gin of about $2 mil­lion. —Reuters

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