Banks drag Qatar to 3-month low, Saudi gains

By Shakeel Ahmad

Feb 13 () - The Qatar stock market slid to a near three-month low on Wednesday, dragged down by its blue-chip banking shares, while Saudi Arabia crept higher, aided by petrochemicals.

Qatar's index fell for a sixth straight day, declining 1.2 percent, and lenders Masraf Al Rayan and Qatar Islamic Bank dropped by 2.8 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.

Qatar's blue-chips stocks have witnessed heavy selling, as investors are now looking to allocate money to other regional markets like Saudi, Kuwait and Egypt that offer better valuations along with some short-term catalysts, an analyst at Al Mal Capital has said.

Most of Qatar's heavyweights closed in the red last week, with Qatari nationals being net sellers, according to a SICO Research note.

However, Vodafone Qatar climbed 2.5 percent in active trade on Wednesday after it reported its first ever annual profit, of 374 million riyal ($103 million) for 2018.

Saudi Arabia's index added 0.2 percent, with Banque Saudi Fransi rising 3 percent and petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries gaining 0.5 percent.

The Saudi index has gained 9.4 percent in the last month, led mainly by foreigners buying close to 4.4 billion riyals ($1.17 billion), according to SICO Research.

Banks have been the key sector leading the rally, even as most petrochemical names underperformed, SICO added.

Saudi International Petrochemical climbed 1.6 percent after it reported a full-year net profit of 583 million riyals, up from 437.4 million riyals a year earlier.

But construction company Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari Sons slumped 10 percent to hit its lowest since its listing in 2010. The firm said its accumulated losses reached 1.11 bln riyals, representing 198.5 percent of its capital.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.3 percent with its biggest lender Emirates NBD gaining 1 percent.

Developers Deyaar Development and DAMAC Properties rose 2.9 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.

Builder Arabtec added 0.5 percent as its annual profit and proposed dividend more than doubled. Arabtec proposed a dividend of 5 fils per share for 2018, up from 2.05 fils a year ago.

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with the emirate's largest developer Aldar Properties gaining 3.5 percent ahead of a board meeting later on Wednesday to discuss full-year results, which would then be published.

Dana Gas added 3.1 percent. The firm will begin drilling this year in an area it says could become Egypt's next giant Mediterranean gas field, after seismic data pointed to reserves as large as 20 trillion cubic feet, reported.

Egypt's blue-chip index was also flat, but Arabia Cotton Ginning jumped 10 percent on higher half-year standalone profit and revenue.

Orascom Investment Holding climbed 3.4 percent after comments by its chairman on possible investments in Venezuela and North Korea.

($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

($1 = 3.6405 Qatar riyals)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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