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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mostly firm, Oman outperforms after Iran deal
July 14, 2015 / 2:49 PM / 2 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mostly firm, Oman outperforms after Iran deal

* Iran deal boosts some Gulf stocks such as Saudi’s Savola

* But depresses oil prices, which negative for much of Gulf

* Oman, closer to Tehran than most Gulf states, leads gains

* Dubai’s Deyaar rises after strong Q2 profit growth

* Egypt’s Beltone surges after capital increase approval

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, July 14 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly firm on Tuesday, moving little in response to the international deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, which opened up new business opportunities for some local companies but also depressed oil prices.

The Iranian agreement will eventually see economic sanctions against Tehran lifted in exchange for curbs on its nuclear development.

Analysts think it would take Iran many months to fully ramp up its oil export capacity after an easing of sanctions. But even a modest initial increase could be enough to pull international oil prices down as the market is already oversupplied; Brent crude fell as much as 2 percent on Tuesday, though it pared its losses later in the day..

Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical index slipped 0.3 percent, tracking oil, but the main stock benchmark closed 0.1 percent higher, buoyed by other sectors.

Al Rajhi Bank was the main support, climbing 1.3 percent. The retail-focused lender posted a marginal drop of 0.4 percent in its second-quarter net profit last week, beating analysts’ forecasts.

Another major support was food maker Savola Group, which rose 1.7 percent. According to equity research house Alphamena, Savola holds a controlling stake in an Iranian company which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s edible oil market.

Optimism about Savola’s Iran operations even offset poor results posted by Herfy Food, in which Savola has a 49 percent stake. Herfy tumbled 4.4 percent after reporting an 11.7 percent fall in second-quarter earnings, which it said was partly due to the holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting for Muslims.

Ramadan, which is tracked using the lunar calendar, fell in the third quarter last year but began on June 18 this year.

UAE, OMAN

Dubai’s index rose initially in response to the Iranian deal but closed flat as some stocks, which had earlier risen on expectations of the agreement, pulled back. Dubai Islamic Bank, for instance, slipped 0.3 percent after gaining 1.8 percent in the two previous sessions.

Port operator DP World, which is one of Dubai’s major logistics companies and might enjoy an increase in cargo traffic through the Gulf after sanctions are lifted, rose 1.4 percent.

Deyaar Development, which on Monday became the first local property firm to post earnings this season and recorded a 37.5 percent jump in second-quarter net profit, added 1.5 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s bourse edged up 0.4 percent as most blue chips rose. Analysts say the United Arab Emirates could be one of the main beneficiaries of a boost to Iran’s foreign trade from sanctions relief.

“In general, exports to Iran from the rest of the MENA region are relatively small, which is not too surprising given that trade profiles are similar,” Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at London-based Capital Economics, said in a note.

“The one exception is the UAE, where exports to Iran are equivalent to around 7 percent of GDP.”

Investors’ mood was also positive in Oman, whose main stock index climbed 0.9 percent, outperforming all other Gulf markets. Like the UAE, Oman has strong political and economic ties with Iran and is also well positioned to boost trade with it thanks to geographical proximity.

Qatar’s bourse edged up 0.2 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank, up 1.8 percent, was the main support and top gainer after posting a 27 percent jump in second-quarter profit.

Egypt’s index rose 1.3 percent, recovering from the previous day’s sell-off as local investors who dominate the market turned net buyers, according to bourse data.

Beltone Financial Holding led gains, surging 7.2 percent after it received regulatory approval for a 200 million Egyptian pound ($25.5 million) capital increase, enabling the financial services firm to offer shares on the Cairo bourse in August.

TUESDAY‘S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index inched up 0.1 percent to 9,275 points.

DUBAI

* The index was flat at 4,053 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index added 0.4 percent to 4,777 points.

QATAR

* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 11,964 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 1.3 percent to 7,687 points.

KUWAIT

* The index rose 0.6 percent to 6,241 points.

OMAN

* The index added 0.9 percent to 6,535 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index was flat at 1,335 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Mark Trevelyan)

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