March 7, 2019 / 9:21 AM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Property weighs on Dubai, most major Gulf markets fall

March 7 (Reuters) - Dubai stocks fell on Thursday when its property firms declined, while bank shares hurt the Saudi market.

Saudi Arabia’s index was down 0.7 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank shedding 1.2 percent and the country’s largest bank, National Commercial Bank, declined 1.5 percent.

Saudi International Petrochemical slipped 1.5 percent. The firm said potential synergies from a possible merger with Sahara Petrochemical is expected to be 175 million to 225 million riyals recurrent EBITDA impact a year. Sahara Petrochemical added 0.2 percent.

Al Jouf Agricultural Development rose 4.7 percent after its full-year net profit jumped to 35.8 million riyals ($9.55 million) from 25.6 million riyals a year earlier.

The Dubai index lost 0.9 percent as Emaar Properties fell 1.8 percent and DAMAC Properties dropped 1.4 percent.

Dubai’s property prices were partly behind the index’s worst performance in local currency terms compared with other major markets last year.

Dubai stocks have rallied this year, lifted by strong fourth-quarter results from its real estate firms, but property prices are expected to decline further.

The Qatar index lost 0.9 percent, trading at its lowest in five months, and was pulled down by its blue-chip financial stocks.

Qatar Electricity and Water dropped 5.3 percent and Doha Bank lost 5.1 percent. Their shareholders approved amending the nominal value of a share to one riyal ($0.2747) from 10 riyals, a regulatory decision to attract investment.

Heavyweight Industries Qatar, which slumped on Wednesday after going ex-dividend, was down 1.2 percent.

Qatari stocks gained 21 percent in 2018 to become one of the world’s best-performing markets, helped by limits being lifted on foreign ownership of shares. But it has retreated by 4.9 percent this year, with some analysts calling the market overvalued.

The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.4 percent, with its largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank dropping 0.8 percent.

But Dana Gas added 2.1 percent. The energy firm, along with a consortium, signed a 20-year gas sales deal with Iraq’s Kurdish region to enable production and sales of an additional 250 million standard cubic feet of gas per day by 2021. ($1 = 3.6405 Qatar riyals) ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

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