MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil price fall weighs on Saudi while blue chips gain in Egypt
By Ateeq Shariff
May 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply on Thursday as banks and petrochemical shares dropped amid falling oil prices, while Egypt's blue-chip index closed higher.
Saudi's index .TASI dropped 1.4% with 10 of its 11 banks trading lower. Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE shed 1.7% and Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE fell 2.5%.
Oil prices dropped on Thursday, extending falls from the previous session amid growing U.S. crude inventories as low refinery runs and trade standoffs weigh on the demand outlook.
The index has lost 8.6% this month in a sell-off triggered by global trade disputes and regional geo-political tensions. The market, however, is still up 8.8% year-to-date driven higher mainly by foreign capital flows into Saudi stocks.
Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres 4321.SE, which debuted on Wednesday, dipped further by 2% to 24.5 riyals ($6.53) from its initial public offer price of 26 riyals.
Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 closed 0.8% higher as Alexandria Mineral Oils AMOC.CA jumped 5.6% after its board approved launching a study for the second phase of a heavy refining project to extract high economic-value products.
El Sewedy Electric SWDY.CA gained 2.1%. On Tuesday, it partnered with General Authority For Suez Canal Economic Zone to establish a new company with issued capital of 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($59.49 million), in which the firm will own 49%.
Dubai's index .DFMGI rose for its third straight session, up 0.2%, rebounding from as much 1% loss earlier in the session, with most of real estate shares gaining.
Dubai's largest listed developer Emaar Properties EMAR.DU rose 1.8%, while its unit Emaar Malls EMAA.DU added 1.7%.
The Abu Dhabi index .ADI rose 0.6% with First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB.AD, the country's largest lender, adding 0.6%.
J.P. Morgan retained an 'overweight' rating on the stock despite recent price volatility and said it preferred the bank over Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.AD, which edged up 0.1%.
Dana Gas DANA.AD rose 2.9%. The stock has been gaining since Tuesday when the energy firm said it had started drilling operations at the Merak-1 offshore well in Egypt.
Qatar's index .QSI declined 0.3% with Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA, the Middle East and Africa's largest lender, dropping 1.2% and Qatar Fuel QFLS.QA losing 2.1%.
Companies on Qatar's exchange had in 2018 increased foreign ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set at 25%, drawing a flood of cash that helped to boost the main index by more than 20% last year.
The index has since cooled, falling about 5 percent since the start of the year on profit taking amid international political tensions.
The index .TASI fell 1.4% to 8,531 points
The index .ADI rose 0.6% to 4,777 points
The index .DFMGI edged up 0.2% to 2,590 points
The index .QSI lost 0.3% to 9,731 points
The index .EGX30 was up 0.8% at 13,777 points
The index .BAX slid 0.2% to 1,408 points
The index .MSI closed 0.4% higher to 3,876 points
The index .BKP declined 0.7% to 6,023 points
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
($1 = 16.8100 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)