* Saudi’s SABIC slumps 3.5 pct on poor earnings
* Saudi’s Bahri sinks 10 pct, erasing prior day’s gains
* Egypt rebounds as local and regional traders buy on dips
* Early gains in Dubai, Qatar fizzle out
* Dubai’s largest bank jumps as results beat expectations
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets stabilised on Monday after registering heavy losses the previous few days, but the mood remained nervous after Brent oil briefly slumped below $28 a barrel to its lowest level since 2003.
The Saudi benchmark, which had tumbled 5.4 percent on Sunday, flip-flopped between positive and negative territory before closing 0.1 percent higher.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the kingdom’s largest company by market value, fell as low as 60.00 riyals after reporting a 29.4 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit caused by lower prices for its products, missing analysts’ forecasts. But it came off its low to close at 63.00 riyals, a 3.5 percent decline.
National Shipping Co (Bahri), the exclusive oil shipper for oil giant Saudi Aramco, fell 10 percent in a second day of heavy trade. Bahri had gained 5.9 percent on Sunday before reporting a huge jump in fourth-quarter net profit that exceeded analysts’ forecasts.
Most other oil-linked stocks also retreated as petrochemical companies’ earnings were weak and crude prices continued to test fresh lows.
But the banking sector, the largest sector by value on the exchange, firmed with Riyad Bank rising 1.4 percent. The kingdom’s fourth-largest lender by assets said it had reached a preliminary agreement to sell land in the second largest city, Jeddah, for 202.5 million riyals ($54 million).
Saudi Electricity Co jumped 5.8 percent. The largest utility company in the Gulf reportd a loss of 1.45 billion riyals in the three months to Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 1.8 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters had estimated SEC would lose 1.4 billion riyals.
“The year-on-year improvement in net income is because of the impact of the one-off losses in the fourth quarter of 2014,” NCB Capital said in a note.
Some bargain-hunters bought mid-cap stocks that had tumbled this year. Knowledge Economic City and Emaar Economic City, developers of new urban areas in the kingdom, rose 2.4 and 5.5 percent respectively.
Egypt’s main index rebounded 3.1 percent, trimming this year’s losses to 15.2 percent as most stocks advanced more than 1.0 percent.
Foreign fund managers, who have been aggressively cashing out of Cairo’s market, remained net sellers on Monday, bourse data showed. But local and regional investors bought on dips.
The two most traded stocks were Orascom Telecom and investment firm Qalaa Holdings, which surged 5.8 and 8.3 percent.
Dubai’s index could not sustain an early rebound, closing 0.3 percent down at 2,678 points, off its intra-day high of 2,756. Gainers outnumbered losers 20 to 11, however.
Builders Arabtec and Drake & Scull advanced 1.9 percent and 2.5 percent; Drake had hit a record low on Sunday. Gulf General Investment, an industrial conglomerate, was the top gainer, surging 6.6 percent in unusually heavy trade.
Emirates NBD closed 0.9 percent higher at 6.50 dirhams, well off its high of 6.85 dirhams. Dubai’s largest lender posted a 74 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit to 2.13 billion dirhams ($579.9 million); analysts at Beltone Financial and HSBC had forecast 1.31 billion dirhams and 1.71 billion dirhams. It also recommended a higher annual dividend. .
Air Arabia fell 2.4 percent in the heaviest trade since November while Aramex, a freight and logistics company, fell 3.6 percent to a five-month low.
Abu Dhabi’s bourse erased most of its early gains but still managed to close up 0.2 percent, trimming its losses this year to 11.9 percent.
Blue-chip lenders First Gulf Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank jumped 3.5 and 1.9 percent. Abu Dhabi’s banks have yet to report quarterly results, and some investors bet ENBD’s earnings showed potential for more positive surprises among other lenders.
Other gainers included developer Aldar Properties, which rose 4.3 percent, and small-cap construction materials supplier Arkan Building Materials, which surged 10.8 percent.
In Qatar, the benchmark index edged down 0.1 percent as early gains fizzled out; blue-chip banks sold off late in the session.
“Investors remain nervous even though there are some attractive buys. In the near term we will not be witnessing a sustained rebound,” one trader said.
Vodafone Qatar rose 3.7 percent while competitor Ooredoo surged 6.1 percent.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,525 points.
* The index jumped 3.1 percent to 5,941 points.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 2,678 points.
The index rose 0.2 percent to 3,795 points.
* The index declined 0.1 percent to 8,517 points.
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 4,982 points.
* The index retreated 0.9 percent to 5,055 points.
* The index edged up 0.03 percent to 1,196 points.
Editing by Andrew Torchia, Larry King