November 5, 2018 / 1:23 PM / 13 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar gains after new appointments, Saudi down on poor earnings

* Abu Dhabi up after early losses

* Selling by foreign investors in Saudi slows

* Arabtec reverses course to close higher

* Saudi’s National Medical Care slips 10 pct on profit slump

Nov 5 (Reuters) - Qatar’s main bourse hit its highest level in a year and a half on Monday following a government reshuffle, while Saudi Arabia was dragged lower by a string of poor earnings.

The Qatar market extended Sunday’s gains as investors greeted the news about the appointment of new heads to its giant state-run energy firm and deep-pocketed sovereign wealth fund as well as appointment of the CEO of its largest bank as its new trade minister.

Abu Dhabi’s blue-chip index recovered from initial losses and recorded its biggest one-day gain in nearly two months, while Dubai erased most of the session’s losses to end roughly flat.

Saudi’s Tadawul bourse lost 0.6 percent, as National Medical Care tanked 10 percent on results that showed quarterly profit more than halved year-on-year.

Qassim Cement fell 1.4 percent as its third-quarter net profit after zakat and tax slumped nearly 90 percent.

The kingdom’s heavyweights Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) both fell by 0.5 percent.

“We believe sentiment [in the Saudi market] has stabilised and foreigners would again deploy capital before the index inclusion timeline,” Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital, told Reuters.

A monthly Reuters poll of 13 Middle Eastern fund managers last week also showed many managers are still looking ahead to estimated inflows into Saudi Arabia of about $15 billion of “passive” funds next year when Riyadh’s market joins emerging market indexes.

Foreigners sold a net 89.2 million riyals in the Saudi stock market in the week ended Nov. 1, a sharp drop from the previous two weeks when investor worries over the impact of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing prompted heavy selling.

The main Qatari index booked a 1.2 percent gain, closing the day at its highest level since April 2017, aided by a 2.3 percent rise in Qatar National Bank and a 2.5 percent gain in Qatar Islamic Bank.

The Abu Dhabi stock index rose 1.1 percent, helped by a 1.6 percent rise in First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 7 percent surge in investment firm Waha Capital.

Major real estate stocks in Dubai rose, with property developer Emaar Malls gaining 1.7 percent after it reported a double-digit jump in quarterly profit, while Damac Properties rose 4 percent.

Arabtec Holding shrugged off earlier losses and climbed 3 percent higher. The construction company earlier said it had appointed U.S.-based Moelis & Co to advise and assist with debt financial modelling and structuring options.

But the gains were partly offset by a 1.5 percent slide in Dubai’s largest bank Emirates NBD and a 1.7 percent fall in Dubai Financial Market.

Egypt’s blue-chip index inched 0.5 percent higher as Abu Qir Fertilizers and Chemical Industries rose 3.2 percent, a day after it reported that profit jumped by 61.2 percent in the first quarter. SAUDI ARABIA * The index was down 0.6 percent at 7,802 points. DUBAI * The index was down 0.01 percent at 2,795 points. ABU DHABI * The index was up 1.1 percent at 4,972 points. QATAR * The index was up 1.2 percent at 10,458 points. KUWAIT * The index was down 0.1 percent at 5,264 points. BAHRAIN * The index was up 0.1 percent at 1,316 points. OMAN * The index was down 0.2 percent at 4,415 points. EGYPT * The index was up 0.5 percent at 13,235 points. (Reporting by Muvija M and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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