MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
Most stock markets in the Gulf fell yesterday as the mood on global exchanged darkened because of the ‘No’ vote in Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform, while Egypt’s most heavily traded stock sank on news its chief executive would step down.
Riyadh’s main index fell 0.3 percent to 7,106 points, but it closed 83 points above its intra-day low and is still up 3.2 percent year-to-date. Trading volume shrank slightly but remained healthy compared to this year’s average, and fund managers characterized the selling of stocks as profit-taking rather than an reversal of the strong uptrend of the last few weeks.
A purchasing manager’s index released yesterday showed growth in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector picked up in November from a record low in October. Petrochemical shares were a mixed bag. Yanbu National Petrochemical fell 1.0 percent but the biggest company, Saudi Basic Industries, added 0.3 percent.
Most banks dropped, with heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank slipping 1.2 percent.
Dubai’s index pulled back 0.3 percent as trading volume fell by roughly a half from Sunday. Profit-taking in some large caps which had gained strongly on the previous day was the main drag, with Emaar Properties dropping 0.6 percent. But Commercial Bank of Dubai, which is usually sparsely traded, added 5.1 percent in unusually active volume. Abu Dhabi’s stock index swung 0.9 percent higher after a volatile session. Blue chips provided the main support with First Gulf Bank adding 2.2 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gaining 2.5 percent.
Cairo’s index of the 30 most liquid shares pulled back 1.8 percent as Orascom Telecom Media and Technology tumbled nearly 10 percent in its heaviest trade since 2012. The company announced that Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris had resigned as chief executive and his deputy Tamer El Mahdi was nominated as successor. It gave no reason for the departure.
Earlier on Sunday, OTMT also said it was closing its Orabank affiliate in North Korea because of complexity of complying with US sanctions on that country. The company added that its telecommunications associate Koryolink would continue operations in North Korea while complying with sanctions. “Investors are still absorbing the shock of Sawiris stepping down and of exiting the N.Korean bank,” said Wafik Dawood, portfolio manager at Cairo’s Compass Capital. “But fresh blood could be good news for the company over the longer term.”
Local funds were heavy sellers of Egyptian equities, exchange data showed, while foreign funds continued to be net buyers, as they have been since the central bank ditched the Egyptian pound’s peg to the US dollar on Nov 3. —Reuters