October 5, 2016 / 8:01 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi telcos diverge, rest of region weak

DUBAI, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s top three telecommunication operators suffered mixed fortunes on Wednesday after all three had risen in heavy trade the previous day while other markets in the region sagged.

Mobile Telecommunication Company (Zain KSA) jumped 6.8 percent, taking its gains since Sunday to 17 percent. Its chief competitor Saudi Telecom (STC) retreated 2.8 percent on Wednesday morning and Etihad Eisalat was down 1.3 percent.

On Sunday the government said it will provide operators with “unified licences” allowing them to offer a full range of telecommunications services.

Telecommunications analysts said this represented a major shake-up of the industry and that there could be losers as well as winners.

Riyadh’s index edged down 0.1 percent after 45 minutes of choppy trade.

Builder Al Khodari jumped 3.3 percent after it said on Tuesday that is has signed a contract with Saudi Arabian Mining (Maaden) to construct an aluminium producing facility for 49 million riyals ($13.1 million).

The contract period will be nine months, with the financial impact staring to be reflected in the fourth quarter results.

Dubai’s index was down 0.1 percent in thin trade, with mid-sized shares weighing on the index. DAMAC Properties fell 0.9 percent and courier Aramex declined 0.3 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index slipped 0.1 percent as the usually traded shares barely moved. The largest listed lender First Gulf Bank was down 0.9 percent. ($1 = 3.7510 riyals) (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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