May 5, 2019 / 1:11 PM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf reverses earlier gains on profit-taking, volumes thin

    * Thin trading volumes ahead of Ramadan
    * Saudi banks down despite positive results
    * Arqaam expects Saudi banks' earning growth to slow
    * Islamic Arab Insurance shoots up in Dubai
    * RAK Properties weighs on Abu Dhabi index
    * Emaar Misr falls in Egypt after Q1 drop in profit

    DUBAI, May 5 (Reuters) - Middle East stock markets reversed
earlier gains and closed in negative territory on Sunday, hit by
profit-taking and disappointing quarterly results from some
companies, with trading thin ahead of Ramadan. 
    The Saudi index was the worst hit in the Gulf,
losing 1.7 percent, pulled down by heavyweight names in the
banking and petrochemical sectors.
    Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest
lender by assets, lost 2.5 percent and Alinma Bank
shed 1.7 percent.
    "We continue to play the banking sector through Al Rajhi
Bank, National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank, and Bank
Aljazira, which have all delivered stellar results in Q1,"
Dubai-based Arqaam Capital said in a research note.
    "However, upsides to FVe (fair valuation estimates) have
almost been closed, while earnings growth should slow in the
coming quarters as Saibor (the Saudi interbank rate) has
stabilized."
    Blue-chip Saudi Basic Industries Corp lost 1
percent, while Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co shed 1.7
percent, despite an increase in oil prices at the end of last
week.
    In Dubai, where the index shed 0.2 percent, Islamic
Arab Insurance rose 14.9 percent and was the day's
most heavily traded stock on the exchange.
    Dubai Islamic Bank was the second most traded,
adding 1.4 percent.
    The Abu Dhabi index lost 0.3 percent, pulled down by
RAK Properties, which dropped 4.5 percent on lower
first-quarter profits. 
    Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank lost 0.9 percent after
it merged last week with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank
to create a banking heavyweight with 423 billion dirhams ($115.2
billion) in assets, the third biggest in the United Arab
Emirates.
    In Egypt, where the index lost 2.4 percent, Orascom
Investment Holding posted the highest volume and
dropped 0.7 percent.
    Real estate company Emaar Misr for Development (EMFD)
 fell 3.2 percent after reporting a 17 percent drop in
Q1 earnings.
    "2019 started slow for EMFD after a robust performance last
quarter for sales and handovers, which might not be exceeded or
met this year," Arqaam Capital said in a separate note.
    
 SAUDI       The index         fell 1.7 pct to 9,179 points
 ARABIA      
 ABU DHABI   The index        dropped 0.3 pct to 5,226 points
 DUBAI       The index          slid 0.2 pct to 2,753 points
 QATAR       The index        lost 0.2 pct to 10,461 points
 EGYPT       The index          fell 2.5 pct to 14,513 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        added 0.1 pct to 1,436 points
 OMAN        The index        shed 0.8 pct to 3,933 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 0.7 pct to 6,170 points
  

($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)

 (Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Dale Hudson)
  
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