* Qatar’s Barwa Real Estate surges after swing to Q4 profit
* But United Development falls on lower proposed dividend
* Energy companies support Abu Dhabi before earnings
* Strength in Emaar Properties lifts Dubai
* Juhayna Food continues soaring in Egypt
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market rose on Wednesday after a major real estate company swung to a fourth-quarter profit, while a drop in oil prices pulled Saudi Arabia down.
The Qatari index closed 0.7 percent higher as Barwa Real Estate surged 8.3 percent in its heaviest trade for 1-1/2 years. It posted a quarterly net profit of 108 million riyals ($29.7 million) versus a loss of 518 million riyals a year earlier; the board recommended a 2016 cash dividend of 2.5 riyals per share, higher than the 2.2 riyals proposed for 2015.
But United Development dropped 3.0 percent after the board recommended a dividend for the year of 1.25 riyals, lower than 1.5 riyals for 2015. The firm reported a fourth-quarter net profit of 171.4 million riyals, an 81 percent jump.
Dubai’s index added 0.2 percent, its fourth straight session of gains, with Emaar Properties rising 1.5 percent and DXB Entertainments adding 0.9 percent.
Energy companies in Abu Dhabi outperformed in the run-up to their fourth-quarter earnings announcements, which are expected on Thursday. Abu Dhabi National Energy climbed 2.0 percent and Dana Gas gained 1.9 percent.
Saudi Arabia’s index dropped 1.0 percent as Brent oil traded below $55 a barrel. All 14 listed petrochemical producers declined with Nama Chemicals, the worst performer in that sector, retreating 5.3 percent and Saudi Kayan losing 2.4 percent.
Banking shares were also weak with heavyweight Samba Financial Group dropping 3.2 percent.
Egypt’s blue chip index rose 0.8 percent to 13,228 points but closed far off the day’s high of 13,411 points. It faces technical resistance on its record high of 13,544 points, hit last month.
Juhayna Food Industries jumped 9.2 percent to 7.83 Egyptian pounds, bringing its gains over the past three days to 34.5 percent. Arabian Food Industries added 5.3 percent.
The food sector came under heavy pressure after the float of the Egyptian pound on Nov. 3 as currency depreciation inflated costs of imported raw materials and rising inflation hit consumer purchasing power. But traders said some investors were now giving the sector a second look.
Hady Medhat, a food industry analyst at Naeem Brokerage, said Juhayna was a standout in the sector because of its healthy gross margins.
“Juhayna stocked up on inventories of raw materials when the pound was trading around 13.5 per U.S. dollar and is well hedged up to at least the third quarter of 2017,” he said, adding that the company’s decision to increase product prices since last April was working in its favour.
* The index fell 1.0 percent to 6,967 points.
* The index added 0.2 percent to 3,726 points.
* The index rose 0.6 percent to 4,574 points.
* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 10,654 points.
* The index rose 0.8 percent to 13,228 points.
* The index added 1.1 percent to 6,656 points.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,828 points.
* The index flat at 1,310 points.
Editing by Andrew Torchia