* Banque Saudi Fransi declines despite earnings beat
* Most other lenders drop on profit taking
* Dubai worst performer of the day
* Real estate shares main drag on Abu Dhabi
* Bank Muscat up on slight Q1 net profit rise
* Tourism sensitive worst performers in Egypt
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, April 13 Profit taking dragged most stock
markets in the Middle East lower on Thursday, erasing most of
the previous session's gains as some of the optimism generated
by generally positive first quarter results faded.
Saudi Arabia's index retreated 0.3 percent, after
rising 0.9 percent on Wednesday when Saudi British Bank
reported an earnings beat and banking shares rose.
The optimism failed to keep markets afloat even though
another lender, Banque Saudi Fransi, reported
first-quarter results that exceeded estimates after Wednesday's
Fransi's shares fell 2.6 percent and most of its peers also
declined. National Commercial Bank, which is expected
to report earnings early next week, fell 2.1 percent and SABB
lost 0.7 percent.
Telecommunications operator Zain Saudi, which had
soared its 10 percent daily limit on Wednesday after reporting
its first-ever net profit and surpassing analysts' forecasts,
fell 0.5 percent with selling momentum building in the final
hour of trade.
Alrajhi Capital said given a saturated industry, high gross
margin levels - which are similar to market leader's - and
relatively high gross capex as percent of sales, which helped
the company achieve a strong growth, it may be a challenge for
Zain Saudi to top those results in the near future.
Elsewhere, in Dubai the index dropped 0.9 percent
with 30 shares declining and only one advancing.
Shares of second- and third-tier companies, often traded by
local day traders, were some of the top losers. Troubled builder
Arabtec lost 2.4 percent and peer Drake & Scull
fell 2.6 percent.
Dubai Islamic Bank, which was trading higher most
of the session, edged down 0.3 percent. Shares of the largest
Islamic bank in Dubai have been positive since it reported
modest growth in first-quarter net profit earlier this week.
National Cement fell 2.8 percent as its shares went
ex-dividend on Thursday.
In Abu Dhabi, real estate shares were the main drag on the
index, which fell 0.8 percent. Heavyweight Aldar
Properties dropped 1.9 percent and RAK Properties
lost 1.6 percent.
In Oman, Bank Muscat rose 1.0 percent after it
reported a 1.1 percent growth in its first-quarter net profit to
44.2 million rials ($114.8 million), at the upper end of
analysts' estimates. The index closed 0.3 percent higher.
Egypt's index fell 0.1 percent and is now down 1.0
percent for the week. Liquidity was being sucked out of the
market after the bombing of two churches killed at least 45
people on Sunday and two days later the parliament declared a
three-month state of emergency.
Tourism related shares were some of the worst performers,
with Egyptian Resorts dropping 1.8 percent.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 7,077 points.
* The index retreated 0.9 percent to 3,509 points.
* The index declined 0.8 percent to 4,518 points.
* The index edged down 0.4 percent to 10,451 points.
* The index fell 0.5 percent to 7,008 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 12,967
* The index edged up 0.3 percent to 5,572 points.
* The index fell 0.1 percent to 1,356 points.
($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)
($1 = 18.1300 Egyptian pounds)
(Editing by Susan Fenton, Larry King)