March 11, 2019 / 1:44 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lead Saudi lower, blue chips gain in Egypt

    * Egypt's Eastern Co rises on higher FY profit forecast  
    * Saudi's Al Hammadi falls on lower FY net profit
    * Middle East Paper slides on SICO downgrade
    * Five of six property firms rise in Dubai

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    March 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell for a
fifth straight session on Monday as most of its banking sector
stocks dropped, while Egypt's blue-chip index gained, helped by
a rise in Eastern Company after it forecast a higher
full-year profit.
    Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.5 percent with
lender Samba Financial Group slipping 1.8 percent and
Banque Saudi Fransi shedding 1.7 percent.
    But the index is still up 7.7 percent this year,
outperforming major Gulf markets. Qualified foreign investors
led the rally and have been net-buyers of Saudi stocks every
week this year.
    Saudi exchange data released late on Sunday showed
foreigners bought 985 million riyals ($262.65 million) of stocks
on a net basis last week.
    This is a huge turnaround compared with the second half of
last year when the index saw a fund outflow in the aftermath of
the Oct. 2 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.   
    Big investors in Saudi Arabia are pushing ahead with deals
and pouring money back into its stock market as the kingdom
tries to move on from the Khashoggi's murder, Reuters reported
on Monday.
    Al Hammadi Company For Development And Investment
fell 2.5 percent after posting a 17 percent fall in its
full-year net profit.
    Paperboard maker Middle East Paper was down 1.8
percent after SICO Research downgraded the stock to "sell" from
"buy" and cut the price target to 18 riyals from 27 riyals.
    SICO said the firm reported a 50 percent year-over-year drop
in its fourth-quarter net profit, adding that downside risk to
containerboard pricing remained high in 2019 amid slowing global
growth and significant supply addition in Europe. 
    Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.8 percent with
investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding gaining 2.2
percent.
    The index has risen 15.8 percent so far this year,
outperforming all major markets in the Middle East region as
Egypt's economy strengthened.  
    Tobacco products maker Eastern Co added 2.9
percent after it forecast a net profit after tax of 3.8 billion
Egyptian pounds ($218.39 million) for financial year 2019-2020,
a 17 percent increase from the 2018-2019 forecast of 3.25
billion pounds. 
    In Dubai, the index was up 0.5 percent, bolstered
by real estate stocks. Blue-chip developer Emaar Development
 increased 1.1 percent while its unit Emaar Malls
 rose 4.2 percent. 
    The Dubai index was one of the worst performing major
markets last year due in part to beaten down property shares,
but they have been rebounding recently after posting robust
fourth-quarter earnings. 
    Qatar index was down 0.3 percent with Qatar
International Islamic Bank falling 6.1 percent. 
    The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with First Abu Dhabi
Bank slipping 0.4 percent. 
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
   
 SAUDI       The index         slipped 0.5 pct to 8,426 points
 ARABIA      
 DUBAI       The index          rose 0.5 pct to 2,592 points
 QATAR       The index        fell 0.3 pct to 9,744 points
 ABU DHABI   The index        was flat at 4,870 points
 EGYPT       The index          was up 0.8 pct to 15,098 points
 KUWAIT      The index        edged up 0.1 pct to 5,583 points
 OMAN        The index        was down 0.1 pct at 4,085 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        was flat at 1,406 points
 

($1 = 17.4000 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by Mark Heinrich)
  
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