April 26, 2018 / 1:39 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi petrochemical stocks under pressure despite index rise

* Saudi petrochemicals stocks under pressure

* Saudi index hovering around more than two-year highs

* Ooredoo sends Qatar index down on earnings miss

* Positive close for Dubai, Abu Dhabi markets

By Marwa Rashad

RIYADH, April 26 (Reuters) - Saudi petrochemical stocks ended Thursday’s trading on the downside after some disappointing earnings, but key banking and property stocks helped the index close slightly higher.

Other Gulf markets were mixed.

The Saudi index closed 0.2 percent up at 8,248 points, hovering near the level last seen in August 2015.

Petrochemicals firms were under pressure with the index’s most heavily weighted company, Saudi Basic Industries Corp , down 2.1 percent. SABIC will announce its quarterly results on Sunday.

Three analysts polled by Reuters expect the company to make an average net profit of 5.8 billion Saudi riyal ($1.6 billion) in the first quarter.

Saudi International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) dropped 4.9 percent after missing earnings forecasts with a first-quarter net profit of 151 million riyals, up 65 percent on year. Three analysts surveyed by Reuters had on average forecast a profit of 189 million riyals.

Alinma Bank slipped 0.4 percent despite surpassing a SICO Bahrain earnings forecast for its quarterly profit of 501.5 million riyals. The bank posted a profit of 582 million riyals.

However Al Rajhi Bank closed 0.3 percent higher while property firm Dar Al Arkan gained 1.6 percent, providing the index some support.

Qatar’s index lost 0.2 percent after a spate of strong earnings helped recent gains. The index is up 6.6 percent so far this year.

Telecommunications firm Ooredoo fell 3.3 percent after reporting a 17 percent decline in quarterly net profit. Ooredoo’s revenues suffered from industry-wide challenges in Indonesia, its biggest international market.

Vodafone Qatar also dropped 2 percent.

Dubai’s index rose 0.6 percent, with Emaar Properties jumping 3.0 percent and DAMAC Properties up 1.5 percent as bargain-hunting emerged in the real estate sector after recent selling.

Both stocks are down more than 15 percent so far this year on anxiety about the outlook for the Dubai real estate market.

Abu Dhabi’s index was up 0.6 percent. Top mover Dana Gas rose 15 percent after falling for several days. .

Dana Gas, Crescent Petroleum, Dragon Oil, and Eni are among companies that sent letters to take part in Iraq’s oil and gas contract bidding round, an Iraqi oil official said on Thursday.

In Egypt, main index rose 1.3 percent, helped by a 2.8 percent rise in Commercial International Bank.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 8,248 points. DUBAI * The index rose 0.6 percent to 3,043 points. ABU DHABI * The index added 0.6 percent to 4,697 points. QATAR * The index lost 0.2 percent to 9,088 points. KUWAIT * The index fell 0.3 percent to 4,810 points. OMAN * The index edged down 0.4 percent to 4,722 points. BAHRAIN * The index was down 0.5 percent to 1,263 points. EGYPT * The index jumped 1.3 percent to 18,363 points. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Editing by Saeed Azhar and Jon Boyle)

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