Middle East stocks little changed
Major Middle East stock markets moved largely sideways yesterday with little positive news to spur buying, although GFH Financial continued surging in Dubai after disclosing details of its business strategy.
In contrast to recent days, Saudi Arabia’s index spent almost the entire day higher, closing up 0.3 per cent – a sign that the impact of the kingdom’s sweeping anti-corruption initiative, which has alarmed investors, might be easing.
Since the beginning of last week, the market had traded lower for most of the day before rebounding toward the close as state-linked funds bought shares, apparently as part of a deliberate market-support operation designed to prevent panic.
Petrochemical investor Alujain rebounded 2.9 per cent after sinking 9.7 per cent in its heaviest trade this year on Monday, when it resumed trading after being suspended since August because of a delay in reporting earnings.
Another petrochemical firm, Chemanol, jumped its 10 per cent daily limit in its heaviest trade since early 2015.
Two major stocks linked to tycoons detained in the anti-graft crackdown – Kingdom Holding and Al Tayyar Travel – barely moved as trading volumes in them shrank, which suggested investors were no longer dumping the stocks out of concern over the companies’ viability.
In Dubai, the index rose 0.3 per cent as the most heavily traded stock, GFH Financial, added 4.6 per cent. On Monday GFH had climbed 6.3 per cent after the company said it had swung to a third-quarter profit from a year-earlier loss, exited real estate portfolios in Bahrain and the United States, would invest in the education sector, and planned to acquire a financial institution in the Gulf.
Dubai Investments, an affiliate of Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund, gained 4.2 per cent in unusually heavy trade.
Health care and education investment firm Amanat Holdings fell 2.4 per cent after Qatar First Bank said one of its units had sold its stake in Amanat for Dh150 million.
Qatar’s index edged up 0.2 per cent but real estate firm Ezdan Holding fell 2.3 per cent after Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating by two notches to BB, in junk territory, with a negative outlook.