March 21, 2018 / 8:29 AM / a year ago

Saudi Electricity down on big Q4 loss, Emaar and Aldar buoy UAE

RIYADH, March 21 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets edged up early on Wednesday with Saudi Arabia aided by firm oil prices despite a much bigger-than-expected loss at Saudi Electricity, and the United Arab Emirates buoyed by news of a tie-up between its two top property firms.

The Saudi index rose 0.5 percent to 7,763 points in the first hour, supported mainly by banks ahead of FTSE’s decision at the end of this month on whether to upgrade Riyadh to secondary emerging market status.

Al Rajhi Bank, expected to be one of the major targets of foreign fund inflows due to an upgrade, rose 1.0 percent; the stock will go ex-dividend on Monday. National Commercial Bank added 0.5 percent.

Saudi Electricity Co fell 2.2 percent after reporting a 5.5 billion riyal ($1.5 billion) loss for the fourth quarter; it said shifting to IFRS accounting standards had affected its results, but gave no details. SICO Bahrain had forecast an 878 million riyal loss and NCB Capital, a loss of 1.58 billion riyals.

“The Saudi market may stall around current levels for some time, facing technical resistance at 7,800 points and waiting for positive news that can move it up again, like the FTSE inclusion decision,” said Muhammad Faisal Potrik, head of research at Riyad Capital. The index peaked earlier this month at 7,839 points.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.4 percent with Aldar Properties jumping 4.6 percent. Aldar said it had signed a joint venture agreement with Dubai’s Emaar Properties to develop local and international projects worth as much as 30 billion dirhams ($8.2 billion).

Emaar rose 1.4 percent, sending the Dubai index 0.5 percent higher.

In Qatar, the index was down 1.0 percent, dragged down by Qatar Gas Transport, which fell 5.4 percent as it went ex-dividend. (Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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