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MIDEAST STOCKS-Sentiment may be soured as oil retreats, SABIC may buoy Saudi on Q1 profit leap
May 2, 2017 / 5:48 AM / 7 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Sentiment may be soured as oil retreats, SABIC may buoy Saudi on Q1 profit leap

DUBAI, May 2 (Reuters) - An overnight drop in crude oil prices may weigh on investors’ sentiment towards the Gulf equity markets on Tuesday, while the largest petrochemical producer in the region, Saudi Basic Industries, may help buoy the Riyadh index as its profit almost doubled in the first quarter.

Brent crude futures were at $51.46 a barrel at 0502 GMT, slightly below the previous close and around the one-year average price of $50.70.

Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), which makes up just a little under one-fifth of the Saudi stock market’s total market value, reported a first-quarter net profit of 5.24 billion riyals ($1.40 billion), an 80 percent jump from a year earlier.

The figure was broadly in line with analysts’ forecast of 5.35 billion riyals, but nevertheless investors may be encouraged to take fresh positions, especially ahead of the country’s pending inclusion into international emerging market benchmarks.

“SABIC is a top contender in its industry on a global front, its margins are very healthy, it has an attractive dividend yield of around 4 percent and when the time comes and Saudi is included in MSCI EM index, SABIC will be the one to keep a close eye on,” said a Jeddah-based portfolio manager.

SABIC’s stock price, last at 99.75 riyals, is up 9 percent year-to-date, outperforming its index, which is down almost 3 percent over the same time period.

Meanwhile, other markets may move little with trade focused on small- and mid-sized companies favoured by local speculative traders. Dubai’s index has been trapped in a narrow range in the last five sessions and near a 20-week low. Qatar’s index is technically bearish, trading near a mid-December low. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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