January 24, 2019 / 1:14 PM / 4 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-ADCB merger update lifts Abu Dhabi, most Gulf markets up

    * Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank hits highest level since 2014
    * Saudi Industrial Investment falls after slide in Q4 profit
    * Most petchems in Saudi drop
    * Property stocks continue to weigh on Dubai

    By Ateeq Shariff and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan
    Jan 24 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's stock market rose sharply on
Thursday, lifted by financials and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank's
update on a three-way bank merger, while Saudi Arabia edged down
as its petrochemical firms slid.
    The Abu Dhabi index was up one percent, partially
lifted by a 5.3 percent hike in Abu Dhabi Commercial bank
(ADCB), which enjoyed a four-year high, and a 2.4
percent gain by Union National Bank.
    ADCB said its board will meet next week to discuss the
potential merger between the firm, Union National Bank and Al
Hilal Bank.
    If it goes ahead, a merger of the three could create an
entity with $113 billion in assets, according to Thomson Reuters
data, and the United Arab Emirates' third-biggest lender after
First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates NBD.
    Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is
reshaping its economy and consolidating state-owned companies to
cope with lower oil prices.
    Saudi Arabia's index fell 0.4 percent, with industry
heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp slipping 2
    Saudi Industrial Investment lost 4.2 percent after
posting a 93.2 percent drop in its fourth-quarter net profit.
The company reported net profit after tax of 27 million riyals 
($7.20 million) compared with 398 million riyals a year earlier.
    The Dubai index slid 0.1 percent as its property
stocks continued to decline.
    Dubai's largest-listed developer Emaar Properties
dropped 0.5 percent and DAMAC Properties shed 0.8
    DAMAC saw its annual profit fall in 2018 and earnings will
be similar for the next two years, although Dubai property
prices may have hit the bottom, its chairman said. The company
is yet to disclose its financial results for the fourth quarter.
    Dubai property prices have fallen since a mid-2014 peak,
hurting earnings of developers and forcing construction and
engineering firms to cut jobs and halt expansion
    DAMAC has plunged by about two thirds in value in the past
12 months, while Emaar Malls and Emaar Development
 are both down 33 percent. That performance sets
them up for exclusion from the MSCI Emerging Markets Index in
May under the compiler's criteria for membership, said Mohamad
Al Hajj, equities strategist at the research arm of EFG-Hermes
    The departure of these stocks could lead to combined
investment outflows of about $220 million, he added.
    Qatar's index increased 0.6 percent, with Industries
Qatar adding 2.6 percent and Qatar Navigation
 rising 3.6 percent.
    The Egyptian stock market was closed for a public holiday.
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         was down 0.4 pct at 8,435
 DUBAI         The index          slid 0.1 pct to 2,514 points
 QATAR         The index        gained 0.6 pct to 10,712
 ABU DHABI     The index        was up 1 pct at 5,019 points
 KUWAIT        The index        rose 0.2 pct to 5,493 points
 OMAN          The index        was up 0.3 pct at 4,180 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        added 0.9 pct to 1,374 points
($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in
Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar in Dubai, Editing
by William Maclean)
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