China's Sun Art to slow pace of store openings in 2017
HONG KONG, Feb 20 Hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd said on Monday it will slow the pace of store openings in 2017 amid intensifying competition in China's retail sector.
* Dubai climbs as Emaar Properties jumps on insurance claim
* GFH tumbles on share issue plan, then recovers
* Saudi's Nama Chemicals surges
* Kuwait steadies after big fall
* Egypt's GB Auto falls on sector's shrinking car sales
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Feb 6 Most stock markets in the Gulf moved little on Monday but United Arab Emirates bourses outperformed with mid-to-large sized companies boosting Dubai, while Egypt's index slipped in thin volume.
Dubai's main index added 1.2 percent as Emaar Properties gained 2.7 percent after saying it would recover 1.22 billion dirhams ($332 million) from an insurance claim for a fire that engulfed one of its hotels in late 2015.
The Dubai-listed shares of GFH Financial Group fell as much as 6.5 percent during the day but ended 0.4 percent higher. The Bahrain-based financial firm announced plans for a big increase in share capital to fund a new growth strategy of acquiring financial institutions and infrastructure investments.
Large caps helped carry Abu Dhabi's index 0.7 percent higher. Dana Gas, which has not yet reported quarterly earnings, rose 1.9 percent.
Saudi Arabia's index added 0.2 percent with buying momentum building in the final hour. Petrochemical shares were the main support with almost two-thirds of the 14 producers gaining. Loss-making Nama Chemicals surged 9.5 percent after slumping 6.7 percent on Sunday. Shares in the polymer maker have been volatile since it announced a recovery plan late last month.
Insurance stocks, often traded by retail investors, were robust; Buruj Cooperative Insurance jumped 8.6 percent.
The sector was one of the best-performing with net income more than doubling in 2016, according to Alrajhi Capital. Analysts attributed the growth to greater efficiencies and higher pricing.
Kuwait's index rebounded 0.2 percent after sinking 2.3 percent in the previous session as investors worried over rising political tensions between the cabinet and parliament, which may delay the country's economic plans.
The Kuwaiti index soared 19 percent last month but has lost steam in the past week and fund managers are split over whether the bull run has ended.
"We are sceptical that Kuwait offers a durable, positive investment case for frontier investors," investment bank Exotix said in a report.
But it added that the stocks were back to their mean valuations for the past five years from the point of view of price/book ratios, and said stocks such as National Bank of Kuwait and Agility combined relatively low valuations with dividend yields above 3 percent.
Egypt's index fell 0.3 percent with two-thirds of the blue-chip constituents declining.
GB Auto lost 3.5 percent after the automotive industry council published a report showing car sales in Egypt fell to their lowest in five years and car brands sold by GB Auto declined 55 percent month-on-month in November 2016, the month when the Egyptian pound was floated and lost nearly half its value.
Analysts at Cairo-based Naeem Brokerage said in a note they expect GB Auto to report a net loss in its fourth-quarter results and for full-year 2016.
"Prospects in the short to medium term seem bleak considering the decline in personal car unit sales," they wrote.
* The index added 0.2 percent to 7,062 points.
* The index climbed 1.2 percent to 3,691 points.
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 4,522 points.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 10,610 points.
* The index declined 0.3 percent to 12,849 points.
* The index rose 0.2 percent to 6,702 points.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,815 points.
* The index fell 0.1 percent to 1,301 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia and Richard Lough)
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TAIPEI, Feb 20 Taiwan stocks were largely unchanged in cautious trade on Monday ahead of exports-related data even as the index continued to test the key 9,800 level. As of 0255 GMT, the main TAIEX index was flat at 9,779.70 points, after briefly hitting a high of 9,817.14. It closed up 0.2 percent on Saturday in a special trading session. The electronics subindex rose 0.3 percent, while the financials subindex lost 0.2 percent. Among big