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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed but banks buoy Saudi
March 15, 2017 / 4:29 PM / in 9 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed but banks buoy Saudi

* Moody’s raises outlook for Saudi bank sector to stable

* Atheeb Telecommunications leaps on capital decrease plan

* Dubai’s Shuaa and GFH move in opposite directions

* Bahrain, Khaleeji Commercial rises on Dubai listing plan

* Mazaya Qatar slides on annual earnings

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, March 15 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mixed on Wednesday but Saudi Arabia was boosted by banks after credit rating agency Moody’s raised its outlook for the kingdom’s banking system to “stable” from “negative”.

The Saudi stock index climbed 0.7 percent as 11 of the 12 listed banks gained, with the biggest, National Commercial Bank, rising 2.4 percent.

“Saudi banks’ liquidity and funding conditions will improve. Although profitability and loan performance will continue to soften, Saudi banks will maintain robust capital and loss-absorption buffers compared with regional and international peers over the outlook horizon,” Moody’s said.

Atheeb Telecommunications surged 9.5 percent after calling an extraordinary general meeting to approve a capital decrease, while construction firm Khodari jumped 7.1 percent.

Petrochemical firm Yansab fell 1.8 percent as it went ex-dividend.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.3 percent as Shuaa Capital added 1.1 percent. GFH Financial, by far the most heavily traded stock, fell 1.1 percent, however.

GFH confirmed late on Tuesday that it was in talks on a possible merger with Shuaa, although Shuaa has still not issued any statement.

District cooling firm Tabreed fell 0.5 percent as it went ex-dividend.

In Bahrain, Khaleeji Commercial Bank surged 4.5 percent in thin trade after saying its annual general meeting had approved a listing of the bank on Dubai’s stock market, which could dramatically improve liquidity in the shares while benefiting shareholders including GFH and Shuaa.

GFH has previously declared its intention to list Khaleeji Commercial, and Wednesday’s statement did not give a time frame. It said GFH would raise its stake in the bank to 55.38 percent from 46.97 percent by acquiring shares owned by Emirates Islamic Bank.

Qatar’s index edged down 0.2 percent as Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Development sank 5.2 percent after saying annual net profit fell to 74.6 million riyals ($20.5 million) from 112.7 million riyals in the previous year.

In Egypt, the index slipped 0.3 percent, but Arabia Cotton Ginning rose 4.2 percent after it posted a first-half consolidated net profit of 84.3 million Egyptian pounds ($4.7 million) versus a net loss of 1.4 million pounds a year earlier.

WEDNESDAY‘S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 6,836 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 3,479 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 4,375 points.

QATAR

* The index dropped 0.2 percent to 10,292 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,797 points.

EGYPT

* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 12,745 points.

OMAN

* The index fell 0.7 percent to 5,660 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,371 points.

Editing by Richard Lough

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