DUBAI, March 19 Stock markets in the Gulf may
trade sideways on Sunday as investors lack fresh cues from
overseas markets and await first- quarter corporate earnings
before taking large new positions.
Brent oil settled at $51.76 a barrel on Friday after
trading narrowly. Global equities ended last week on a strong
footing, but most Gulf stock markets are lagging emerging
markets in general; the MSCI emerging market index
is up 12 percent since the start of the year
but Dubai's index is down 0.3 percent and the Saudi
benchmark down 4 percent.
Investors are concerned that low oil prices and planned
government austerity measures in the Gulf will continue to weigh
on corporate earnings.
The second phase of Qatar's upgrade by FTSE Russell to
secondary emerging market status will take place from the
opening on Monday, with 20 of the 22 companies selected in
September 2016 seeing their investibility weights doubled.
Some passive funds may buy those stocks on Sunday as a
result; fund managers have calculated passive fund inflows due
to this month's FTSE change could exceed $300 million. But
profit-taking last week suggested many investors, after
front-running the rebalancing, are eager to book gains and will
sell into strength.
In Kuwait, Kuwait International Bank and Al Ahli
Bank go ex-dividend on Sunday, which could pressure
their share prices.
In Saudi Arabia, insurer Solidarity Saudi Takaful
may attract some interest after it said it had reduced its
accumulated losses to below 50 percent of its capital. Its
shares will be suspended from trade in the first two hours.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)