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MIDEAST STOCKS-Geopolitics weigh on markets, Abu Dhabi firm on ADNOC IPO plan
November 20, 2017 / 2:10 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Geopolitics weigh on markets, Abu Dhabi firm on ADNOC IPO plan

* Saudi at lowest close since graft crackdown announced

* UAE’s Dana Gas rebounds after fall on London sukuk ruling

* Dubai’s Emaar continues fall on unit’s IPO pricing

* Abu Dhabi attracts interest with ADNOC unit’s IPO

* Qatar National Bank falls 1.9 percent

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

DUBAI, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Middle East fell again on Monday, dampened by geopolitics, although Abu Dhabi was supported by plans for an initial public offer of shares by the distribution unit of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC).

Regional tensions have risen in recent weeks between Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Islamist Iran over Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s surprise resignation, and an escalation in Yemen’s conflict.

The Saudi and other Arab foreign ministers called at an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday for a united front to counter Iranian interference.

Some fund managers think there may be little downside left for Gulf markets now that valuations are no longer high, and believe the geopolitical worries may prove excessive.

“Geopolitical tensions are easy to provoke but also easy to ease - markets do not seek solutions to recover, only indications of solutions,” said Talal Samhouri, head of asset management at Amwal LLC in Doha.

But investors’ mood in the Gulf on Sunday was generally glum, with the Saudi stock index falling 1.0 percent to its lowest close since the government alarmed the market two weeks ago by announcing a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown.

Except for Bank Aljazira, which rose 0.6 percent, all Saudi banks fell with Banque Saudi Fransi losing 2.2 percent and National Commercial Bank, the kingdom biggest lender, falling 1.2 percent.

Despite strong oil prices in recent weeks, Saudi petrochemical shares also edged down with Saudi Basic Industries losing 0.8 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged up 0.2 percent after ADNOC outlined plans for the IPO of its distribution unit, which could attract new money to the market. The offer price range is due to be announced on Nov. 26.

Dana Gas, which had tumbled 4.2 percent on Sunday after a London court ruled against it in its effort to have $700 million of its outstanding Islamic bonds declared invalid, rebounded 2.9 percent. Dana plans to appeal the decision and is also fighting its case in a United Arab Emirates court.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.2 percent as construction firm Arabtec Holding lost 2.8 percent and Emaar Properties fell 1.2 percent.

Emaar has been sliding since late last week, when it priced the IPO of its local real estate development unit in the lower half of an indicative range.

Courier firm Aramex climbed 2.0 percent after saying chief executive Hussein Hachem was being replaced with immediate effect by chief financial officer Bashar Obeid. It did not explain the decision; last month, the company had announced Obeid would take early retirement.

Qatar sank 0.3 percent as big banks slipped, with Qatar National Bank, the largest lender, falling 1.9 percent. In Egypt, the index lost 0.5 percent as Telecom Egypt Co. tumbled 4.2 percent.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 6,804 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 3,417 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 4,289 points.

QATAR

* The index edged down 0.3 percent to 7,808 points.

EGYPT

* The index dropped 0.5 percent to 13,681 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 6,258 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.5 percent to 1,266 points.

OMAN

* The index lost 0.2 percent to 5,085 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia/Mark Heinrich)

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