MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems, banks weigh on Saudi; Qatar’s GIS slumps on weak Q1 – Reuters

DUBAI, April 20 Petrochemical shares were the
main drag on Saudi Arabia’s stock market in early trade on
Thursday after oil prices fell sharply overnight, while Qatar’s
index was hit by weak earnings from oil rig provider Gulf
International Services.

The Saudi index was down 0.5 percent after half an
hour of trade as almost three-quarters of listed petrochemical
shares fell, with heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries
dropping 0.5 percent.

Most petrochemical producers have not yet reported
first-quarter earnings. Companies in Saudi Arabia are now
obliged to report earnings based on IFRS standards, and the
securities regulator said last year that firms could report
interim earnings as long as 30 days after the end of each
period, rather than 15 days as previously.

Most Saudi banking shares also fell with Saudi Investment
Bank, the worst performer, down 1.2 percent. All Saudi
banks, except for Samba Financial Group, have reported
earnings; while results were mixed, most beat expectations.

Cement shares slipped with Qassim Cement, the
latest in the sector to report a slump in first-quarter
earnings, down 0.6 percent. It reported a net profit of 80.3
million riyals ($21 million), down 40 percent from a year ago.

In Doha, Gulf International Services dropped 5.3
percent after it reported an 81 percent slide in first-quarter
earnings to 15 million riyals ($4.1 million), far below QNB
Financial’s forecast of 452 million riyals and Alphamena’s
estimate of 378 million riyals.

The Qatari stock index was down 0.9 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, First Abu Dhabi Bank, formed on
April 1 by the merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First
Gulf Bank, rose 0.5 percent after it announced a 12.4 percent
rise in combined “pro-forma” first quarter net profit to 2.93
billion dirhams ($798 million).

That was aided by a 145.5 percent jump in “other
non-interest” income while loan impairment charges slipped 3.9
percent. The merger is expected to produce cost savings of 500
million dirhams, the bank said.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co jumped 5.4 percent
after its chief operating officer told Reuters on Wednesday it
might sell some oil and gas interests in North America to raise
capital for its core business.

Earlier this month TAQA said the state-owned utility had
raised its stake in the company to 74 percent from 52.38 percent
after granting TAQA land valued at 18.7 billion dirhams that
could potentially offset accumulated losses.

Profit taking on other shares, however, weighed on the Abu
Dhabi index, which fell 0.3 percent. Aldar Properties
retreated 2.3 percent.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.8 percent as builder
Arabtec, which had jumped almost 11 percent on
Wednesday after shareholders approved its 1.5 billion dirham new
share issue and a plan to use existing capital to wipe out
accumulated losses, fell 2.3 percent.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Susan

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems, banks weigh on Saudi; Qatar’s GIS slumps on weak Q1 – Reuters}

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