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Maqsood Alam

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf shares fall as virus cases rise, banks support Saudi

25 Jun 2020

* Samba jumps on merger speculation * Samba, NCB in merger talks- Sources * QNB weighs on Qatar By Maqsood Alam June 25 Most Gulf stock markets fell on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases across the region climbed, with Saudi's index the exception as banking stocks lifted it to a slightly higher close. The number of novel coronavirus cases in the six Gulf Arab states has doubled in a month to more than 400,000, as the region's two biggest economies this week fully lifted curfews imposed to combat the infection. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index was up 0.3%. Samba Financial Group (Samba) closed 4.1% higher before it and National Commercial Bank (NCB), the country's largest lender, asked the stock exchange to suspend trading for one session ahead of a material announcement. Citing sources, Reuters reported that the lenders are in early talks about a merger. NCB, shares of which closed flat on Thursday, abandoned a plan to merge with Riyad Bank in December. Riyad Bank closed 3.4% higher. Dubai's main share index lost 0.6%, weighed down by a 1.1% fall in Emirates NBD Bank and a 0.7% drop in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties. Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest lender, began cutting hundreds of jobs this week after the coronavirus crisis accelerated planned lay-offs, Reuters reported, citing three sources. Although the full scale of the redundancies was not immediately clear, one source estimated Emirates NBD was cutting some 10% of its staff, equivalent to around 800 people. In Abu Dhabi the index retreated 1%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank down 1.6%. The Qatari index eased 0.4%, hurt by a 1.6% decline in the Gulf's largest lender Qatar National Bank. Fitch Ratings on Wednesday said that Qatar's banks are at risk of volatile external funding conditions. In Egypt, the index was down 1.3% with most of its constituents falling. Commercial International Bank Egypt led the losers with a drop of 2%. SAUDI ARABIA gained 0.3% to 7,232 points ABU DHABI declined 1% to 4,286 points DUBAI fell 0.6% to 2,087 points QATAR eased 0.4% to 9,185 points EGYPT down 1.3% to 10,891 points BAHRAIN slipped 0.1% to 1,279 points OMAN was flat at 3,526 points KUWAIT lost 0.2% at 5,657 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Slow growth, poor earnings push Egypt lower, Major Gulf stocks mixed

21 May 2020

May 21 Egypt's stock market fell on Thursday in response to the country's slower growth rate and poor quarterly profit reported by investment bank EFG Hermes

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egyptian stocks dip on coronavirus restrictions, FAB boosts Abu Dhabi

20 May 2020

* 27 of 30 Egyptian stocks decline * FAB rises after suspending Egyptian deal * Etisalat CEO resigns * NCB extends gains on earnings * Saudi Aramco snaps winning streak By Maqsood Alam May 20 Egyptian shares fell sharply on Wednesday amid the tightening of coronavirus restrictions, but major Gulf equity markets were higher, with Abu Dhabi's index rising the most on the back of First Abu Dhabi Bank. Egypt, which on Tuesday registered 720 new coronavirus cases bringing the total infections to 13,484 cases, extended a halt to all international passenger flights to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The North African country will tighten restrictions during the six-day Eid holiday from May 24. Egyptian blue-chip index dropped 1.5%, with most of its constituents ending in the red. Market heavyweight Commercial International Bank Egypt was down 1%, while tobacco firm Eastern Company declined 2.5%. Abu Dhabi's index rose 1.4% as the United Arab Emirate's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank surged 2.4%. The stock rose as much as 1.4% on Tuesday before settling flat, after the bank said it would not acquire Egyptian business of Lebanon's Bank Audi . Meanwhile, Emirates Telecommunications Group shed 0.5% after it said that its chief executive officer had resigned. Saudi Arabia's stock index edged up 0.1%, supported by a 3.8% rise in Savola Group. National Commercial Bank rose 1.1% for its sixth consecutive daily gain. The country's largest lender on Sunday reported a 2.1% rise in first quarter profit. Gains were capped by the oil giant Saudi Aramco, which fell 1.1% to 33 riyals, snapping a sixth-session winning streak. Qatar's stock index was up 0.6%, with lenders Masraf Al Rayan and Qatar Islamic Bank advancing 2.2% and 0.9%, respectively. Dubai's index ended up 0.1% as Emaar Properties was up 0.8% and Emirates NBD Bank added 0.5%. SAUDI ARABIA edged up 0.1% to 7,050 points ABU DHABI rose 1.4% to 4,131 points DUBAI gained 0.1% to 1,933 points QATAR added 0.6% to 8,856 points EGYPT dipped 1.5% to 10,205 points BAHRAIN edged up 0.3% to 1,261 points OMAN inched down 0.2% to 3,387 points KUWAIT was down 0.2% to 5,277 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets lifted by global rally and oil prices

19 May 2020

* Aramco registers sixth consecutive daily gain * All Saudi banks in positive territory * Aldar edges higher ahead of quarterly earnings By Maqsood Alam May 19 Major Middle East stock markets closed higher on Tuesday, tracking a rise in global equities and a recovery in oil prices, with Saudi Arabia leading gains on the back of oil giant Saudi Aramco. Global equity markets surged on Monday and Asian shares extended gains on Tuesday after data on Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the United States, showed it produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers. Oil prices rose for a fourth straight session on Tuesday, supported by signs of output cuts and demand recovery as coronavirus restrictions are eased. "Global sentiment is leading the rise in local markets supported by recovering oil prices," said Marie Salem, head of institutions at Daman Securities. Saudi Arabia's index closed 1.8% up, led by Saudi Aramco and banking shares. Aramco jumped 3.1% for its sharpest intra-day rise in more than a month and its sixth consecutive daily gain, trimming its year-to-date loss to 5.4%. Saudi Basic Industries rose 3.1% and Al Rajhi Bank added 1.3%. The Dubai index firmed by 0.6%, with Emirates NBD Bank up 1.6% and Aramex advancing 2.6%. In Abu Dhabi, the index was up 0.3% as the telecoms company Etisalat gained 1.2% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank jumped 4.4%. Aldar Properties edged up 0.6% ahead of a meeting of its board on Wednesday to discuss first-quarter financial performance. Qatar's index rose 0.4%, led by a 1.9% increase for Industries Qatar . Qatar has extended a programme that provides guarantees to local banks from the Qatar development bank, with interest-free loans for a full year instead of six months, the state news agency reported on Tuesday. In Egypt, the blue-chip index closed 0.8% up, with market heavyweight Commercial International Bank Egypt gaining 1%. SAUDI ARABIA increased 1.8% to 7,045 points ABU DHABI gained 0.3% to 4,074 points DUBAI was up 0.6% to 1,931 points QATAR added 0.4% to 8,802 points EGYPT rose 0.8% to 10,357 points BAHRAIN edged up 0.2% to 1,257 points OMAN slipped 1% to 3,393 points KUWAIT was up 1.8% to 5,287 points (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman )

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf stocks rise on higher oil prices; Saudi leads gains

18 May 2020

* Ten of 11 Saudi banks rise * Samba rises on Q1 profit * Aramco closes over IPO price * El Sewedy extends losses on profit decline By Maqsood Alam May 18 Most major Gulf stock markets rose on Monday, lifted by rising oil prices, led by Saudi Arabia after its banking sector got a boost from upbeat corporate earnings. Oil prices climbed on Monday, supported by output cuts and signs of gradual demand recovery amid easing coronavirus curbs. Brent crude jumped 6.1% at $34.49 a barrel by 1041 GMT. Saudi Arabia's index rose 1.4%, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 1.6%. Samba Financial Group jumped 4.3% after it reported a 19.6% increase in first-quarter net profit, while the country's biggest lender National Commercial Bank rose 2.3% after reporting a 2.1% rise in quarterly profit. Saudi Aramco closed up 1.3% at 32.35 riyals above its initial public offering price of 32 riyals, a mark it last touched on April 12. In Dubai, the index gained 0.4% with its biggest lender Emirates NBD adding 3.2%. Union Properties jumped 3.1% after the real estate developer said it would seek approval from shareholders to utilise statutory reserve to reduce its accumulated losses, which stood at 2.14 billion dirhams ($582.68 million) and represented nearly 50% of the capital at the end of 2019. The Qatari index ended up 0.8%, with Industries Qatar and Qatar Islamic Bank rising 4% and 2.3%, respectively. A decliner was the Abu Dhabi index, down 0.1%, as the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) retreated 0.4%. Reuters reported, through sources, that FAB put on hold discussions to acquire the Egyptian assets of Lebanon's Bank Audi due to difficult market conditions. In Egypt, the index fell 0.8%, dragged down by tobacco firm Eastern Company declining 3.5%. El Sewedy Electric fell 4.8%, its fourth consecutive session of losses, after the cable maker reported a more than 50% plunge in first-quarter net profit. SAUDI ARABIA rose 1.4% to 6,921 points ABU DHABI edged down 0.1% to 4,061 points DUBAI gained 0.4% to 1,920 points QATAR was up 0.8% to 8,765 points EGYPT slipped 0.8% to 10,279 points BAHRAIN rose 0.6% to 1,254 points OMAN edged down 0.3% to 3,427 points KUWAIT was up 1% to 5,196 points ($1 = 3.7560 riyals) ($1 = 3.6727 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil prices, corporate earnings boost Saudi shares

17 May 2020

* Aramco closes at 31.95 riyals * NCB, Riyad Bank gain on earnings * Air Arabia rises despite lower Q1 profit * DFM sees sharpest intraday rise in over a decade By Maqsood Alam May 17 Saudi Arabian stocks rose sharply on Sunday buoyed by jump in oil prices and positive corporate earnings, while Dubai was up on news about potential financial support from Abu Dhabi. U.S. crude prices jumped 7% on Friday and Brent crude settled 4.4% up at $32.50 a barrel as demand showed signs of picking up with countries easing travel restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Saudi Arabia's index closed 1.6% higher led by Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Aramco which rose 2% a 1.8%, respectively. Saudi Aramco closed at 31.95 riyals, slightly below its initial public offering price of 32 riyals. National Commercial Bank (NCB) advanced 2.8% after reporting a 2.1% rise in first-quarter profit and Riyad Bank rose 2.9% as its net special commission and fee income increased 7.3%. Dubai's index rose 0.9% as Dubai Financial Market surged 14.9% to its sharpest intraday rise since 13 October 2008, while Dubai Investment added 3.6%. Reuters reported, citing sources, that the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai were discussing ways to prop up Dubai's economy by linking assets in the two emirates, with Abu Dhabi's state fund Mubadala likely to play a key role in any deal. Dubai denied being in talks with Abu Dhabi for support from Mubadala. The Abu Dhabi index inched down 0.1% with telecoms firm Etisalat losing 0.3% and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank gaining 0.9%. The Qatari index closed 0.4% down as Masraf al Rayan shed 1.4% and Industries Qatar slipped 1.2%. In Egypt, the blue-chip index was up 0.7% as the market heavyweight Commercial International Bank Egypt rose 1.2%. Egypt's central bank left its main interest rates on hold on Thursday, balancing a growth slowdown with an unexpected uptick in inflation. Egypt, which cut growth target to 4.2% from 5.6% for the current fiscal year which ends in June, reported an uptick in annual inflation to 5.9% in April from 5.1% in March. SAUDI ARABIA rose 1.6% to 6,825 points ABU DHABI edged down 0.1% to 4,065 points DUBAI gained 0.9% to 1,911 points QATAR lost 0.4% to 8,699 points EGYPT was up 0.7% to 10,357 points BAHRAIN was up 0.4% to 1,246 points OMAN was up 0.5% to 3,438 points KUWAIT rose 2.4% to 5,147 points ($1 = 3.7560 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf stocks dive, Qatar gains on stimulus measures

16 Mar 2020

* Aramco closes down at 27.8 riyals * Yansab slips on ex-dividend * Jarir Marketing falls after showrooms shutdown * Stimulus plan boosts Qatari index By Maqsood Alam March 16 Most major Gulf shares fell sharply on Monday as stimulus measures, including rate cuts, failed to calm investors worried about the economic damage from the coronavirus that has infected nearly 1,000 people in the region. While Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates announced packages worth $13 billion and $27 billion, respectively on Saturday, Gulf central banks on Monday took cue from the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates by 100 basis points to 0%-0.25% target range. Qatar, however, bucked the trend as the government announced measures to support the economy, including providing 75 billion riyals ($20.60 billion) in financial incentives, and a plan to inject up to 10 billion riyals in the local bourse. Denting sentiment further were lower crude oil prices, with Brent crude dropping 10.6% to $30.27 a barrel by 1231 GMT. Saudi Arabia's index slipped 5.2%, with Al Rajhi Bank falling 4.9%. Saudi Aramco closed 3.1% lower at 27.8 riyals ($7.41), a day after it reported a 21% decline in its profit for 2019. Jarir Marketing slumped 7.4% after announcing temporary shutdown of showrooms in shopping centers and Yanbu National Petrochemical (Yansab) dived 9.1% as it traded ex-dividend. The Abu Dhabi index declined 7.8%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank closing down 10%. Dubai's index plunged 6.2%, taking its loss in March so far to 33.4%. Dubai Islamic Bank, whose shareholders approved increasing foreign ownership in the bank to 40%, dropped 8.5%. Emaar Properties fell 9.8%. Qatar's index rose 1.5% with Qatar Islamic Bank jumping 6.5%. "A broad package of measures was announced to ease the cash flow crunch impacting much of the economy from COVID-19 related lockdown. The stimulus is equivalent to 10% of GDP," said Akber Khan, director of asset management at Qatar's Al Rayan Investment. "An injection to the stock market was also announced; assuming the government does not account for 100% of daily volume, buying would continue for several months", Khan added. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's dropped 7.1% with all but one stock trading in the red. Commercial International Bank was down 6.1%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 5.2% to 5,960 ABU DHABI slipped 7.8% to 3,548 DUBAI lost 6.2% to 1,843 QATAR gained 1.5% to 8,431 EGYPT dropped 7.1% to 9,429 BAHRAIN lost 1.4% to 1,395 OMAN fell 1.8% to 3,682 KUWAIT declined 5% to 4,661 ($1 = 3.7526 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

CORRECTED-MIDEAST STOCKS-Major Middle East indexes decline on coronavirus impact

15 Mar 2020

(Corrects last para to show that Qatar's index rose 1% not '0.1%') * Saudi Aramco slips as FY profit falls * DXB Entertainments halts park operations * All 30 Egyptian blue-chips decline By Maqsood Alam March 15 Most major Middle Eastern stock markets closed lower on Sunday amid fears of economic fallout from coronavirus precautions, with Egypt falling the most and Saudi Aramco slipping after it missed profit forecasts. Gulf Arab states, with nearly 900 virus cases, expanded measures to contain the spread of the infection with Abu Dhabi's bourse closing trading halls and Dubai shuttering cinemas, gyms and arcades. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have halted international passenger flights. Egypt, with more than 100 virus cases, announced the closure of schools and universities for two weeks. The Egyptian index, which traded after a session break, plunged 9.3%, its biggest intra-day fall since November 2012. All the constituents closed in the red, with Commercial International Bank plummeting 9.9%. In Saudi Arabia, the index was down 1.1% in a third straight day of declines. Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.1%. Aramco closed down 1% at 28.7 riyals ($7.65) after posting a 21% decline in 2019 net profit to $88.2 billion. Analysts had expected net profit of $92.6 billion, based on 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv. Banque Saudi Fransi lost 4.7%. The lender said it began implementing the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s private sector financing support program which allows SMEs a six-month deferral on bank payments. Lejaam Sports plunged 10% after it suspended activities temporarily due to the coronavirus. Dubai's index slid 3.4%, trading at its lowest since 2013. Emirates NBD Bank weighed on the index most, dropping 10%. Emaar Properties ended 5% down. It said last week it would stop taking bookings at three hotels for more than five months, effective from Sunday, due to the virus. DXB Entertainments lost 5.1% after temporarily suspending theme park operations. Abu Dhabi's index was down 1.9% with First Abu Dhabi Bank declining 3.7% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank decreasing 5.8%. Kuwait's index, which traded after a suspension on Thursday, decreased 6.5% with Kuwait Finance House falling 7.8%. The Qatari index, however, bucked the trend, rising 1%. Qatar National Insurance rose 7%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 1.1% to 6,287 points ABU DHABI slipped 1.9% to 3,849 points DUBAI lost 3.4% to 1,963 points QATAR was up 1% to 8,311 points EGYPT plunged 9.3% to 10,148 points BAHRAIN dropped 1.5% to 1,415 points OMAN edged up 0.4% to 3,748 points KUWAIT declined 6.5% to 4,905 points ($1 = 3.7533 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE leads Gulf stock falls on coronavirus, U.S. travel ban

12 Mar 2020

* Aramco closes down at 29 riyals * Makkah Construction slips as FY profit falls * Air Arabia dives on travel restriction * Qatar's Barwa posts lower profit * Trading in Kuwait and Egypt suspended By Maqsood Alam March 12 Equity indexes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hit record lows as Gulf stocks tracked a sell-off in global shares on Thursday after the United States restricted travel and the World Health Organization (WHO) called coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump banned all travel from Europe, except from Britain, to the United States for 30 days starting on Friday, after the WHO described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time. "All markets in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) are at risk after the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, which triggered a sell-off across the board in the U.S. market," said Marie Salem, head of institutions at Daman Securities. "More losses are expected following President Trump's announcement to suspend travel from Europe for 30 days." Dubai's index fell 8% to its lowest since April 2013 with Emirates NBD dropping 10%. Emaar Properties sank 9.8% to its lowest in about seven and half years. The Burj Khalifa developer, which will stop taking bookings at three hotels for more than five months from March 15 amid coronavirus fears, has lost nearly 36% this year. Air Arabia closed down 8.9% after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait tightened travel restrictions. In Abu Dhabi, the index closed down 7.4% at its lowest in more than four years. Market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi dropped 8.1%. Saudi Arabia's index slipped 3%. Saudi Aramco fell 2.4% as oil prices slumped, also hurt by the threat of a flood of cheap supply as Saudi Arabia promised to raise output. Brent crude was down 5.5% at $33.81 by around 1215 GMT. Aramco's shares closed at 29 riyals ($7.73), 10.3% below their initial public offering (IPO) price of 32 riyals and have lost 17.3% so far this year. Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.5% and Makkah Construction declined 4.2% after reporting lower annual profit. The Qatari index ended 4.5% lower, after two straight sessions of gains. Qatar National Bank lost 5.5%. Barwa Real Estate slipped 2.9% after reporting nearly 22% fall full year profit. Trading in Kuwait and Egypt was suspended on Thursday. SAUDI ARABIA fell 3% to 6,357 points ABU DHABI plunged 7.4% to 3,922 points DUBAI declined 8% to 2,032 points QATAR shed 4.5% to 8,230 points BAHRAIN lost 3.6% to 1,436 points OMAN was down 2.6% to 3,734 points ($1 = 3.7533 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, UAE indexes fall as oil prices drop

11 Mar 2020

* Saudi Aramco closes down at 29.7 riyals * All Saudi banks decline * Bahri jumps on tankers booking * Qatar's Barwa surges ahead of FY results By Maqsood Alam March 11 Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) closed lower on Wednesday as oil prices fell after both the countries promised to raise oil output amid an oil-supply policy dispute with Russia. Saudi Arabia directed Saudi Aramco to raise its oil production capacity to 13 million barrels per day from 12 million bpd. UAE's national oil company (ADNOC) said that it would raise crude supply to more than 4 million bpd in April and would accelerate plans to boost its capacity to 5 million bpd. Brent crude fell almost 3% to $36.13 per barrel by 1221 GMT. On Monday, Saudi Arabia slashed crude prices for April and set plans to raise production next month after Russia refused to support deeper oil production cuts, causing oil prices to fall 25% and Gulf equities to post record declines. Saudi Arabia's index declined 3.1% as Saudi Aramco plunged 4.7% to 29.70 riyals ($7.91) below its initial public offering price of 32 riyals. Al Rajhi Bank lost 3% and National Commercial Bank was down 3.8%. But National Shipping Company (Bahri) soared 9.9%, its sharpest rise since October 2008, on news that it booked as many as 14 super-tankers to ship crude oil to customers worldwide. Dubai's index slipped 1% as Commercial Bank Of Dubai plunged 9.9%. Emaar Properties, which will stop taking bookings at three hotels from March 15 amid coronavirus fears, lost 1.4%. Abu Dhabi's index shed 0.6% with First Abu Dhabi Bank losing 1.2% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank declining 5.2% The Qatari index, however, rose 2.1%, extending its gain from the previous session and buoyed by rise in banking shares. Commercial Bank surged 6.7%, while Qatar Islamic Bank was up 3.3%. Barwa Real Estate jumped 8.8%, its biggest intra-day rise in more than three years. The real estate developer is slated to report its 2019 financial results later on Wednesday. In Egypt, the blue-chip index edged down 0.1% with the tobacco firm Eastern Company rising 3.4% and Egypt Kuwait Holding shedding 4%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 3.1% to 6,552 points ABU DHABI slipped 0.6% to 4,236 points DUBAI lost 1% to 2,208 points QATAR rose 2.1% to 8,613 points EGYPT edged down 0.1% to 11,194 points BAHRAIN edged down 0.3% to 1,493 points OMAN was up 0.9% to 3,798 points KUWAIT increased 1.4% to 5,174 points ($1 = 3.7533 riyals) (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

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