May 8, 2019 / 1:38 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Global trade tensions, Ramadan dent appetite for Gulf stocks

    * 29 of 30 stocks in Egypt fall
    * Emaar Misr falls on lower Q1 results
    * Financials lift Kuwait index
    * Middle East Paper slides to 1-year low on Q1 results

    By Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan
    May 8 (Reuters) - The Egyptian blue-chip index slid sharply to its worst day
in six months on Wednesday, mirroring weak global sentiment, while Saudi
Arabia's index fell, pressured by global tensions and investors retreating from
markets during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
    Egypt's blue-chip index fell 2.5 percent, with 29 out of 30 stocks
trading in the red. Egypt's largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt
 fell 0.7 percent, while Egyptian Iron & Steel plunged 9.9
    Property developer Emaar Misr For Development fell 4.7 percent
after reporting a 16.8 percent fall in its first-quarter net profit.  
    Oil prices stabilised as markets remained relatively tight amid U.S.
sanctions on crude exporters Iran and Venezuela, while global shares dipped to a
near five-week low amid renewed trade tensions between U.S. and China.

    "The sell-off across the region is mainly due to deteriorating sentiment
globally following Trump's China tariffs announcement. Most global equity
markets witnessed broad-based sell-offs and our (Gulf) region was not spared,"
said Nadi Bargouti, head of asset management at Shuaa Capital.  
    "Unfortunately, recent geopolitical developments are adding to investor
anxiety and applying more pressure on regional markets," Bargouti added.
    The Saudi index was down 0.8 percent. The country's second-largest
lender by assets, Al Rajhi Bank, lost 2 percent and Riyad Bank
 shed 1 percent.
    Middle East Paper Co fell 6.6 percent to its lowest in more than a
year after reporting a 79.3 percent plunge in first-quarter net profit, citing a
drop in selling prices.
    Takween Advanced Industries slid 2.6 percent as its first-quarter
net loss widened. 
    The Qatar index was down for the fourth straight day, falling 1.3
percent, with 18 of the 20 stocks declining.
    Heavyweights Industries Qatar and Commercial Bank fell
2.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
    Locally, Ramadan is a factor that underlines the sell-off across Gulf
markets, when volumes slow down and with that any selling pressure gets
aggravated, said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital. 
    "Note that investors have made decent returns this year and it is not
surprising they are taking some money off the table," Bhandari added.
    Dubai's index was down 0.5 percent, with pressure from its real
estate firms. DAMAC Properties and Emaar Properties fell
2.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. 
    Amlak Finance lost 1.5 percent after it reported a loss for the
first-quarter compared to a profit a year earlier.
    Abu Dhabi's index closed flat. Abu Dhabi National Hotels
jumped 14.7 percent in light trade. Earlier this week, the company posted higher
first-quarter operating revenue.
    Kuwait's index was the only major Gulf market in the positive
territory, adding 0.9 percent with Zain Kuwait and National Industries
Group gaining 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

 SAUDI ARABIA    The index         fell 0.8 pct at 8,900 points
 ABU DHABI       The index        was flat at 5,124 points
 DUBAI           The index          slid 0.5 pct at 2,713 points
 QATAR           The index        lost 1.3 pct at 10,123 points
 EGYPT           The index          fell 2.5 pct to 14,027 points
 BAHRAIN         The index        dipped 0.1 pct at 1,441 points
 OMAN            The index        fell 0.7 pct at 3,875 points
 KUWAIT          The index        gained 0.9 pct at 6,365 points

 (Reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru
Editing by Frances Kerry)
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