DUBAI, May 3 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell in early trade on Wednesday after oil prices slipped, while a televised interview by the top economic policy official, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, did little to boost market sentiment.
Advanced Petrochemical dropped 3.2 percent after the polypropylene maker posted first-quarter net income of 124 million riyals ($33.1 million), down 12.9 percent from a year ago and below NCB Capital’s prediction of 149 million riyals.
Other petrochemical makers were also weak after Brent crude slipped below $51 a barrel overnight to its lowest close this year. Riyadh’s stock index was down 0.3 percent after half an hour of trade.
The prince said the government would focus on investing in the mining sector, developing the weapons industry, supporting an auto industry and improving the kingdom’s logistics, both sea and air.
He also said authorities would announce a programme to address the kingdom’s shortage of private housing in the third quarter of this year. But he did not give a time frame or expected expenditure on those projects.
Among companies that could benefit from the government’s industrial investment, Emaar the Economic City added 0.9 percent, extending the previous session’s 4.6 percent gain, but Saudi Automotive Services gave back some of Tuesday’s rise and fell 1.1 percent.
Saudi Mining Co (Ma‘aden) the only listed company directly involved in mining, edged up 0.5 percent. National Metal Manufacturing and Casting rose 1.5 percent.
Small ground freight and logistics company Batic Investments and Logistics added 1.4 percent in active trade.
The prince also stressed the government’s intention to give financial support to medium- and lower-income Saudi citizens to offset the impact of austerity measures. This encouraged investors to bid up the stocks of some consumer-oriented companies; retailer United Electronics rose 0.8 percent.
Elsewhere, Dubai’s index edged down 0.3 percent as 20 shares declined and only nine rose. Union Properties fell 1.0 percent.
In Abu Dhabi, the index rose 0.2 percent with the largest listed lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, up 1.4 percent.
Qatar’s index was flat near a 20-week low; telecommunications operator Ooredoo was the worst performer, down 1.9 percent. The company’s Omani unit, Nawras, looks set to face fresh competition after three other major Gulf teleommunications operators said they were bidding for a licence in Oman. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Andrew Heavens)