February 25, 2019 / 1:28 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Blue-chip banks pressure Saudi, property stocks impede Dubai

    * 10 of 12 banks slide in Saudi
    * Arriyadh Development falls on lower FY profit
    * Dubai snaps eight-day winning streak
    * Qatar gains ahead of planned share-split

    By Ateeq Shariff
    Feb 25 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell on
Monday as most of its blue-chip bank shares slid, while Dubai
snapped an eight-day winning streak, pulled down by its real
estate stocks.
    Saudi Arabia's index decreased 0.9 percent with Al
Rajhi Bank falling 0.6 percent and Riyad Bank
 losing 3.1 percent.
    The Saudi market is consolidating after a strong rally last
month due to an increase in foreign fund flows ahead of the
market's inclusion in key emerging market benchmarks later this
year. The index is up nearly 8 percent year to date.
    Arqaam Capital trimmed its Saudi exposure to 30 percent by
taking profits on National Commercial Bank and Al
Rajhi Bank after having increased its weight in mid-December.
    The brokerage trimmed its exposure in the banks by 2.5
percent to 7.5 percent each, saying "valuations are now becoming
full in absence of further rate cuts in the United States". 
    Foreign investors, who have been net buyers in all weeks
this year, continued their buying spree. Foreigners bought a net
442.8 million riyals of stocks last week, according to weekly
data from the Saudi exchange.
    Saudi Vitrified Clay Pipe Co lost 1.9 percent
after its full-year net profit plunged to 4.4 million riyals
compared to 28.9 million riyals a year ago, as demand for pipes
slowed and costs rose.
    Arriyadh Development Co fell 2.5 percent after
posting a more 8 percent drop in its full-year profit in the
absence of land sales and drop in its operating sector revenue.
    The Dubai index slid 0.3 percent, with DAMAC
Properties losing 4.2 percent and Emaar Malls
 losing 2.2 percent.
    Dubai snapped its longest stretch of gains since January
2018, mainly triggered by strong fourth-quarter earnings from
real estate firms.
    Property firms have led the recent rally after displaying
signs of recovery in their fourth-quarter results and more
construction contracts. However they remained vulnerable to
falling property prices.
    The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.5 percent with the
country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank
decreasing 0.9 percent.
    But Qatar's index added 0.4 percent, with
heavyweights Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank
 gaining 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. 
    The index slipped into negative territory in February, but
has been rebounding ahead of companies splitting their stocks.
    Qatari companies are set to split their shares from one to
10 under a regulatory requirement, meaning post-split shares
would be offered at one-tenth of their current value. This could
attract retail investors in particular to buy more affordable
stocks and increase liquidity in the index.
    Egypt's index was down 0.1 percent as Commercial
International Bank Egypt fell 0.7 percent.

 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         down 0.9 pct to 8,433 points
 DUBAI         The index          was down 0.3 pct at 2,661
               points
 ABU DHABI     The index        fell 0.5 pct to 5,116 points
 Qatar         The index        was up 0.4 pct at 10,227 points
 EGYPT         The index          down 0.1 pct to 14,946 points
 KUWAIT        The market was closed due to a public holiday
 BAHRAIN       The index        was down 0.5 pct to 1,408 points
 OMAN          The index        gained 0.4 pct to 4,068 points
 
 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine
Evans)
  
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