April 23, 2018 / 2:09 PM / in a year

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi surges again on inflows, earnings as Dubai sags

* Saudi exchange data shows record foreign inflows last week

* Bank Aljazira jumps after Bahrain’s Ahli United buys stake

* Dubai’s DAMAC sinks after it cuts dividend

* TAQA continues soaring in Abu Dhabi

* “Full-fledged bull market” in Egypt

By Hadeel Al Sayegh

DUBAI, April 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market continued a strong upwards trend on Monday because of inflows of foreign funds and strong corporate earnings, while the rest of the Gulf was lacklustre.

Latest exchange data showed foreigners bought a record $384 million of Saudi Arabian stocks on a net basis last week, anticipating much bigger inflows of funds when Riyadh joins emerging market indexes next year.

The Saudi stock index rose 1.0 percent on Monday, bringing its gains so far this year to 15 percent.

Bank Aljazira was up 5.1 percent after Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank said it acquired a 7.3 percent stake in the Saudi Islamic lender. Ahli United dropped 1.6 percent.

Saudi Telecom rose 1.5 percent after it reported first-quarter profit of 2.59 billion riyals ($691 million) versus 2.53 billion riyals last year, broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts.

Another telecommunications firm, Mobily, jumped 4.5 percent after it narrowed its first-quarter loss to 93 million riyals from a loss of 163 million riyals a year ago.

Meanwhile, Dubai was weak - partly, fund managers say, because money has been flowing from Dubai to the red-hot Saudi market. The index was down 0.6 percent at a fresh two-year closing low.

“Investors’ confidence is very weak, which is understandable and due to several factors, like inconsistent dividend policies and sizeable losses at several listed companies,” said Tariq Qaqish, managing director of the asset management division at Menacorp.

DAMAC Properties tumbled 7.1 percent after the company lowered its annual cash dividend to 15 fils per share from 25 fils.

Abu Dhabi’s index was up 0.2 percent on the back of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co, which rocketed 14.6 percent in its heaviest trade since last August; it has soared in the past month, partly because of strength in global energy prices.

In Egypt, the index gained 1.0 percent as Talaat Mostafa, one of the largest property developers, rose 3.3 percent. EFG-Hermes, an investment bank, gained 5.4 percent and Qalaa Holdings, an investment firm, rose 5.6 percent.

“It’s a full-fledged bull market,” said Wafik Dawood, head of institutional sales at Beltone Financial.

Juhayna Food Industries surged 3.9 percent to 13.50 Egyptian pounds after reporting a 38 percent year-on-year jump in first-quarter consolidated net profit, on a 20 percent rise in sales.

The stock has risen from below 4.0 pounds at the time of the Egyptian pound’s devaluation in November 2016, and by some measures is overvalued, with its 12-month trailing price-earnings ratio at 62 times. Ten analysts covering the stock have a median target price of 10.75 pounds.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index rose 1.0 percent to 8,335 points. DUBAI * The index fell 0.6 percent to 3,062 points. ABU DHABI * The index rose 0.2 percent to 4,693 points. QATAR * The index edged up 0.02 percent to 9,158 points. EGYPT * The index climbed 1.0 percent to 18,081 points. KUWAIT * The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,779 points. OMAN * The index edged down 0.1 percent to 4,756 points. BAHRAIN * The index was down 0.2 percent at 1,299 points. ( Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alison Williams)

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