February 5, 2015 / 5:44 AM / in 3 years

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil may put pressure on Gulf markets

DUBAI, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets may end the week on a soft note after oil prices tumbled on Wednesday and local companies announced a mixed set of fourth-quarter results.

Brent crude edged up 0.5 percent in Asian trade on Thursday after China cut bank reserve requirements, but it still traded below $55 per barrel. It had plunged 5.5 percent in the previous session.

Earlier this week, a rally by oil fuelled hopes that the commodity had bottomed out, which lifted all stock markets in the Gulf. Oil’s renewed volatility was followed by pull-backs in the Saudi Arabian and Dubai stock markets on Wednesday, and this may now spread to other bourses in the region.

Industries Qatar <IQCD.QA, the second-biggest petrochemicals firm in the Gulf, posted a 4.2 percent decline in fourth-quarter net profit on Thursday. The company made a net profit of 1.60 billion riyals ($440 million) in the quarter, while analysts had on average forecast 1.62 billion riyals.

Oman’s Raysut Cement reported a 9.2 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit after tax on Thursday that missed analysts’ estimates by a wide margin, according to Reuters calculations. The company made a profit of 6.55 million rials ($17.0 million); analysts had expected 7.55 million rials.

Another disappointing earnings statement came from Abu Dhabi’s Dana Gas, which said on Thursday it had swung to a net loss in the fourth quarter.

Dubai courier Aramex delivered a more positive earnings report, beating estimates with a 17 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit. The company made 89.4 million dirhams ($24.3 million) in the quarter against an average estimate of 83.8 million dirhams.

Saudi Arabian retailer Jarir Marketing may rise after hiking its fourth-quarter dividend to 1.85 riyals from 1.40 riyals a year ago. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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