Mid­dle East stocks lit­tle changed

The National - News - - BUSINESS -

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.

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