Food companies buoyed the Saudi stock market on Sunday after better than expected results from the region's largest dairy food producer while a visit by the king of Saudi Arabia to Egypt failed to lift the Cairo bourse.
The Saudi index advanced 1.4 percent after dairy producer Almarai reported a slight rise in first-quarter net profit in a challenging market. Almarai's shares rose by 3.6 percent, helping the food sector to a 4.2 percent gain.
Savola, which has a 36.5 percent stake in Almarai, jumped 6 percent to 44.10 riyals and is Riyadh-based NCB Capital's top pick in the sector.
Shares in Jarir Marketing, one of the kingdom's largest retailers by market value, shrugged off a 29.5 percent drop in first-quarter net profit and gained 2.4 percent to 117.75 riyals.
Riyad Capital rates Jarir a "buy", with a target price of 189 riyals, citing its attractive dividend yield as a factor in its rating.
Construction and engineering contractor Alkhodari edged up 0.4 percent after it booked a 15 million riyal ($4 million) profit from the sale of some of its equipment last week. The revenue will be reflected in the second quarter.
The petrochemical sector was another strong performer, spurred by Friday's rebound in oil prices, with Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) climbing 2 percent.
Dubai's index added 1.4 percent to a five-month high of 3,434 points, with trades mainly concentrated in mid-cap stocks.
Builders Arabtec and Drake and Scull, which accounted for 40 percent of total volumes, added 4.1 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Arabtec, which has yet to report earnings, closed at 1.80 dirhams and is now considered overvalued by analysts. The average target price in a Reuters poll of eight analysts was 1.10 dirhams.
Real estate-related stocks helped to propel the Abu Dhabi index 0.7 percent higher ahead of this week's Cityscape exhibition, at which a number of developers are expected to announce new projects. Eshraq Properties jumped by 8.9 percent.
Energy stocks also performed well. Dana Gas and Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA) surged by 11.1 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.
In Cairo, Egypt's main index fell 1 percent, with investor caution prevailing despite the visit by Saudi King Salman.
"There are no direct indications yet of grants, aid or central bank deposits by the Saudis to Egypt," said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Cairo's Naeem Brokerage, adding that the market resumed the correction that began after Egypt's mid-March currency devaluation.
Bourse data showed that local and foreign traders were net sellers on Sunday, while non-Egyptian Arab investors were net buyers.
Orascom Telecom and investment company Qalaa Holding each fell by 2.6 percent.
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