March 6, 2018 / 1:41 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi down; Egypt hits record high

DUBAI, March 6 (Reuters) - Gulf stocks were mixed on Tuesday, with the Saudi market up on steady oil prices and Abu Dhabi dragged down by First Abu Dhabi Bank's stock going ex-dividend.

Outside of the Gulf, Egypt's index continued to climb, reaching an all-time high as it benefits from the central bank’s decision to cut interest rates last month, the first time it has done so since letting the currency float freely in 2016.

The Egyptian exchange closed at 16,012.66 points, up 1.99 percent, fuelled by gains in the consumer and real estate sectors.

Stronger global stocks on Tuesday – with U.S. President Donald Trump facing increasing pressure to pull back from a proposed increase in steel and aluminium tariffs – had a positive effect on the Saudi market, which was also boosted by gains in the petrochemical sector due to steady oil prices.

The Tadawul climbed 0.96 percent, with petchem companies such as Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) gaining 1.5 percent and Saudi International Petrochemical Co up 0.9 percent.

Banks were also all up, with Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation seeing the highest trading volumes in the sector and climbing 1.32 percent, while Arab National Bank was the top gainer, jumping 3.7 percent.

"Global markets have improved and the Saudi market is already balanced, so people are optimistic and the bet is still on leading stocks and banks," said Mazen Al Sudairi, head of research at Rajhi Capital.

The Qatar market lost 0.29 percent, despite initial gains. Vodafone Qatar was the worst performer, losing 3.76 percent. The company’s board announced last week a decision to reduce the share capital of the company by halving the nominal value of the company to 5 riyal per share.

The real estate sector also weighed on the index, with United Development Company and Barwa Development Company losing 1.79 percent and 0.88 percent respectively.

The Dubai exchange was broadly flat, losing only 0.05 percent. Abu Dhabi, though, slipped 1.87 percent, pulled by First Abu Dhabi Bank which dropped 6.47 percent as the stock went ex-dividend.

FAB announced a cash dividend of 0.7 dirhams. On the ex-dividend date, the exchange reduces the stock price by the amount of the dividend to account for the fact that new investors are not eligible to receive dividends and are therefore unwilling to pay a premium.

SAUDI ARABIA

* Index went up 0.96 percent to 7,437.61 points.

DUBAI

* Index shed 0.05 percent to 3,204.91 points.

ABU DHABI

* Index dropped 1.87 percent to 4,523.49 points.

QATAR

* Index went down 0.29 percent to 8,429.30 points.

EGYPT

* Index rose 1.99 percent to 16,022 points.

KUWAIT

* Index was flat 6,805.74 points.

BAHRAIN

* Index was up 0.01 percent to 1,374.766 points.

OMAN

* Index dropped 0.81 percent to 4,947.400 points. (Aditional reporting by Marwa Rashad Editing by Mark Potter)

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