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DUBAI, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Banking shares weighed on Saudi Arabia's stock index in morning trade on Sunday after the largest listed lender reported third-quarter profit below expectations, while neighbouring Gulf bourses were also soft.
Riyadh's index pulled back 0.9 percent in the first 40 minutes of trade as National Commercial Bank (NCB) dropped 3.9 percent after reporting third-quarter net profit of 1.96 billion riyals ($522.7 million), down 1.6 percent from the same period of 2015. Three analysts had forecast on average that NCB would make a quarterly profit of 2.31 billion riyals.
NCB, like most other Saudi banks that have already reported quarterly results, cited higher operating expenses, caused by higher impairments on financings and investments. The bank is a key lender to Saudi Arabia's troubled construction sector.
A little over half of listed banks have now posted third-quarter earnings, and they have generally been flat or weak; the sector's sub-index fell 1.4 percent early on Sunday.
In Muscat, National Bank of Oman lost 2.5 percent after it posted a 15.2 percent fall in third-quarter net profit, missing analysts' forecasts. The general market index was down 0.1 percent.
Dubai's index fell 0.4 percent in quiet trade. With no major companies posting earnings reports, small and mid-sized shares were the main movers; builder Drake & Scull retreated 1.2 percent.
In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.3 percent as the largest listed stock, Etisalat, dropped 0.8 percent. Qatar's index of the 20 most valuable companies fell 0.4 percent, with roughly 70 percent of shares declining; Qatar Insurance lost 1.3 percent. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Mark Potter)