April 2, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 23 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi continues slide after FTSE decision, Qatar climbs again

* Third day of profit-taking in Saudi after FTSE decision

* Qatar stocks keep rising on higher foreign ownership limits

* Dubai’s Emaar Properties at new 23-month low

* Bahrain ignores news of big oil find

* Egyptian Chemical soars in heaviest trade for decades

By Katie Paul

DUBAI, April 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market closed down on Monday, falling for a third straight day after FTSE Russell decided last week to upgrade the bourse to emerging market status. The rest of the region was mixed but Qatar continued climbing.

The Saudi index shed 0.2 percent in active trade, which analysts attributed to moderate profit-taking after a months-long surge preceding FTSE’s decision.

The biggest contributor to the index’s drop was property developer Dar al-Arkan, down 5.4 percent. Saudi Telecom, which analysts at NCB Capital said was likely to be hurt this year by regulatory changes scrapping a ban on internet telephone calls, dropped 1.3 percent.

Al Rajhi Bank, which attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of fresh foreign money earlier this year on expectations that it would be a major constituent of the FTSE index, slipped in early trade but rebounded to close up 0.5 percent.

Most fund managers believe FTSE inclusion is a long-term positive for Saudi stocks as interest in the market from abroad remains high, but say many stocks are fully valued for now. STC, for example, is trading at over 16 times trailing earnings.

Foreign investors bought a net $301 million of stocks last week, the third highest total on record, according to exchange data released on Sunday.

The Qatari index rose for a second day, gaining 0.7 percent after Qatar Petroleum said on Saturday that foreign investors would be able to hold up to 49 percent of four affiliates. Raising foreign ownership ceilings increases stocks’ weightings in emerging market indexes.

Gains were led by Qatar National Bank and Masraf al-Rayan, which were up 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively.

The Dubai index dropped 0.9 percent, weighed down by a 2.6 percent drop by Emaar Properties to a 23-month closing low amid long-standing concern about the local real estate market outlook. Neighbouring Abu Dhabi’s index closed roughly flat.

Bahrain’s bourse fell 0.7 percent, largely ignoring the government’s announcement on Sunday that it had discovered the country’s largest oilfield in decades. Details were not provided.

In Kuwait, the market was divided into three segments on Sunday as part of reforms designed by the exchange to boost liquidity and attract more foreign money: the premier market, the main market and the auction market.

The index of the premier market, home to the largest and most liquid companies, fell 1.0 percent.

Egypt’s blue chip index rose for a sixth straight day, buoyed by last week’s interest rate cut.

Egyptian Chemical Industries, which is close to completing a new ammonia and urea production facility, rocketed in heavy trade for a third straight day, recording its highest volume since it listed in the early 1990s. It last traded 14.5 percent higher.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 7,783 points.

DUBAI

* The index dropped 0.9 percent to 3,107 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index edged down 0.04 percent to 4,582 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.7 percent to 8,729 points.

EGYPT

* The index gained 0.5 percent to 17,685 points.

KUWAIT

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 4,895 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index lost 0.7 percent to 1,295 points.

OMAN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,750 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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