March 14, 2018 / 8:11 AM / 9 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar pulls back in early trade, some Saudi stocks surge on news

DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market pulled back in early trade on Wednesday after two days of strong gains, while most other Gulf bourses moved sideways but a few individual stocks in Saudi Arabia rose sharply in response to positive news.

The Qatari index, which had surged 6.7 percent in the previous two days as heavyweights Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar soared after announcing plans to raise their foreign ownership ceilings, fell back 2.0 percent.

QNB slipped 3.4 percent and Industries Qatar retreated 2.8 percent. The most heavily traded stock, Qatar Insurance , sank 6.5 percent. At the end of this week, it will be removed from several FTSE global indexes.

Islamic insurer Al Khaleej Takaful tumbled 6.9 percent after saying on Tuesday that it would distribute no dividend for 2017, after the central bank asked it to recognise an impairment provision.

In Saudi Arabia, the index was flat after 45 minutes amid profit-taking in banks and petrochemicals. Al Rajhi Bank , into which foreign money has been pouring in anticipation of Saudi Arabia being upgraded to emerging market status later this year, pulled back 0.9 percent.

But stocks with positive news were heavily traded, showing underlying market sentiment remained strong. Saudi Automotive Services jumped 3.8 percent after its board proposed a capital increase to 600 million riyals ($160 million) from 540 million riyals, using retained earnings, to fund expansion.

Retailer United Electronics climbed 4.6 percent to 65.80 riyals. EFG Hermes raised its target price for the stock to 90 riyals from 50 riyals and, earlier this month, CI Capital raised its target by 38 percent to 80 riyals.

National Petrochemical continued to rocket after announcing very strong annual earnings at the end of last week. It soared a further 9.9 percent.

Dubai’s index edged up 0.2 percent as builder Drake & Scull surged 2.8 percent. District cooling provider Tabreed gained 0.6 percent on the last day that buying the stock will entitle holders to its annual dividend. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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