Financials buoy Egypt, Saudi inches up on banks

By Shakeel Ahmad

Jan 21 () - Egypt's blue-chip shares rose on Monday, bolstered by financial stocks, while Saudi Arabia reversed early losses as most of its banks gained.

Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.9 percent with its largest bank, Commercial International Bank, gaining 2.2 percent. The bank has gained in the last few sessions after its board decided to increase its authorised capital to 50 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.79 billion) from 20 billion pounds.

Non-Arab foreign investors were the net buyers of Egyptian blue-chip shares, followed by Arab investors, according to data on the exchange website.

Saudi Arabia's index inched up 0.2 percent, with National Commercial Bank, its biggest bank, increasing 1.8 percent.

Samba Financial Group rose 3 percent after it appointed Ammar Bin Abdul Wahid Al-Khudairy as its chairman.

The Gulf's largest dairy company Almarai added 2.5 percent. It had plunged 6.1 percent in the last session after reporting a 28 percent drop in its fourth-quarter profit.

But petrochemical shares mostly fell, with the country's largest listed company, Saudi Basic Industies, dropping 1.3 percent, while Saudi Kayan slid 5.4 percent, despite posting a narrowed fourth-quarter net loss after zakat and tax of 110.9 million riyals ($29.57 million) from 220.3 million riyals a year ago.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.6 percent with all its real estate firms down. DAMAC Properties, which has lost 23.2 percent so far this year, dropped 4.1 percent. Last week, BofA Merrill Lynch downgraded DAMAC to "underperform" from "neutral". BofA lowered its 2018 to 2020 earnings per share forecast on DAMAC by an average of 47 percent, citing expectations of weaker booked sales and gross margin.

The emirate's biggest bank, Emirates NBD, shed 0.8 percent after three days of gains following a 10 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit.

Qatar's index lost 0.4 percent with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar slipping 0.8 percent; HSBC last week downgraded the stock to "reduce" from "hold" and cut the target price to 115 riyals from 125 riyals.

The Abu Dhabi index was also down 0.4 percent with First Abu Dhabi Bank, United Arab Emirates' largest lender, sliding 0.7 percent.

($1 = 17.8900 Egyptian pounds)

($1 = 3.7504 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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