Most Gulf bourses pull back after two-day rally

Saudi Arabia's index closes nearly flat but stock markets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar all end lower
Most Gulf bourses pull back after two-day rally
By Reuters
Mon 29 Dec 2014 05:50 PM

Most Gulf stock markets pulled back on Monday after gaining strongly in the two previous sessions, but Saudi Arabia's petrochemicals sector rose after Brent crude oil climbed back above $60 per barrel.

Oil rebounded in thin holiday trade after a fire at one of Libya's main export terminals destroyed 800,000 barrels of crude - more than two days of the country's output - as clashes escalated between factions battling for control of the nation.

Although confidence in heavy state spending - underlined by Saudi Arabia's record 2015 budget plan, announced last week - has made Gulf equities less exposed to moves in oil over the past week, the oil price remains important for the petrochemicals sector. This is because petrochemical products are often priced in relation to crude.

Saudi Arabia's main index closed nearly flat in heavy trade on Monday, but most petrochemical stocks rose. PetroRabigh surged 5.7 percent in its heaviest trade since May, Saudi Kayan Petrochemical rose 1.5 percent andSaudi Basic Industries added 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, shares in Almarai fell 1.0 percent after it said on Sunday its board recommended a cash dividend of 1 riyal per share for 2014.

Almarai, the largest dairy firm in the Gulf, paid the same amount in 2013 and some market players had expected a higher 2014 dividend as net profit is forecast to rise 13 percent, according to a Thomson Reuters average of analysts' predictions.

Dubai's index fell 1.2 percent after jumping 2.6 percent on Sunday. Developer Emaar Properties pulled back 1.8 percent and builder Arabtec, which was the most traded stock, dropped 2.5 percent.

Shares in retail start-up Marka fell 2.9 percent, having surged 12.0 percent in the previous session on news of an acquisition that would make the company profitable on an operating basis in 2015.

Abu Dhabi's index slid 1.2 percent with most blue chips in the red.

Qatar's benchmark edged down 0.5 percent. However, shares in drilling rig provider Gulf International Services surged 7.4 percent after the company's shareholders approved a series of amendments to its articles of association to streamline corporate governance.

The new rules, in particular, include the mandatory presence of elected directors on the company's board.

Egypt's bourse jumped 2.4 percent as trading volume nearly doubled. Commercial International Bank and developer Talaat Moustafa Group were the main supports, gaining 4.5 and 6.2 percent respectively.

"There has been a lot of stock-specific buying focusing on stocks in which there had been little trading in the last few sessions," said Cairo-based Naeem brokerage analyst Harshjit Oza.

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