DUBAI

The Pak Banker - - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS/SPORTS -

Saudi Ara­bia's stock mar­ket fell in early trade on Sun­day af­ter oil prices dropped, while Egypt's bourse was rose slightly af­ter en­cour­ag­ing news on the coun­try's in­vest­ment projects.

The main Saudi in­dex fell 1.7 per­cent and petro­chem­i­cals gi­ant Saudi Ba­sic In­dus­tries, down 1.8 per­cent, was the main drag. The com­pany's prof­its have been hurt by the drop in oil prices over the last 12 months and the com­mod­ity's fresh weak­ness is a con­cern for in­vestors.

U.S. crude posted its big­gest monthly drop - 21 per­cent - since the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis on Fri­day af­ter a string of losses in July trig­gered by China's stock mar­ket slump and signs that top Mid­dle East pro­duc­ers were pump­ing crude at record lev­els. Brent lost 5 per­cent on the week and 18 per­cent on the month.

Other Saudi blue chips, in­clud­ing banks and con­sumer stocks, also fell and only a hand­ful of com­pa­nies made gains, in­clud­ing King­dom Hold­ing, which edged up 0.7 per­cent. The in­vest­ment firm owned by bil­lion­aire Prince Al­waleed bin Talal posted a 12.6 per­cent rise in sec­ondquar­ter net profit on Sun­day as its in­come in­creased and costs fell.

Egypt's mar­ket climbed 0.3 per­cent, buoyed by prop­erty devel­oper Talaat Moustafa Group, which rose 3.3 per­cent, and Ezz Steel, up 4.3 per­cent.

Egypt's plan­ning min­is­ter told Reuters on Satur­day that the Cairo gov­ern­ment had turned more than half of ini­tial agree­ments signed at a March in­vestor con­fer­ence into in­vest­ment projects, which could boost de­mand for con­struc­tion and re­lated in­dus­tries. He did not dis­close the value of those projects, but the gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously val­ued the deals agreed at the event at $36 bil­lion. The coun­try's cen­tral bank at the end of last week kept in­ter­est rates un­changed, as most an­a­lysts had ex­pected. But go­ing for­ward, some ex­pect a more dovish stance.

Stock mar­kets in the Gulf were nar­rowly mixed in early trade on Sun­day as Dubai out­per­formed, sup­ported by posi- tive earn­ings and ex­pec­ta­tions. The emi­rate's in­dex rose 0.5 per­cent, sup­ported by Dubai Is­lamic Bank, up 1.3 per­cent, and prop­erty devel­oper DA­MAC, which jumped 2.6 per­cent.

Dubai Is­lamic Bank beat an­a­lysts' fore­casts with a 35 per­cent rise in sec­ondquar­ter net profit last week and DA­MAC said on Sun­day its board would dis­cuss sec­ond-quar­ter re­sults and a div­i­dend pay­out on Tues­day.

DA­MAC's board will also dis­cuss the adop­tion of the IFRS 15 ac­count­ing stan­dard, which al­lows de­vel­op­ers to recog­nise off-plan sales ear­lier than un­der cur­rent prac­tice and could pro­vide a one-off boost to rev­enues.

Else­where in the Gulf, Abu Dhabi's bourse was flat with mixed moves by blue chips, while Qatar edged down 0.7 per­cent. In­dus­tries Qatar, whose earn­ings are sen­si­tive to oil prices, was the main drag and fell 1.6 per­cent af­ter crude dropped on Fri­day. Kuwait's in­dex edged down 0.3 per­cent and Oman inched up 0.1 per­cent.

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