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Wed 27 Jul 2011 10:01 AM

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Petchems drag Saudi market to 8-day low

Saudi Arabia's investors reduce positions ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan

Petchems drag Saudi market to 8-day low
Dubai stock market

Saudi Arabia's investors reduce positions ahead of the
Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and a lack of catalysts drags the index to an
eight-day low.

The kingdom's benchmark fell 0.5 percent to 6,445 points,
its lowest close since July 19.

Most petrochemical and banking stocks fell, accounting for
almost a third of total trading volumes.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) shed 1.2 percent, Saudi
Arabian Fertilisers Co slipped 0.1 percent and Sahara Petrochemical Co declined
3.5 percent.

Heavyweight lender Al Rajih Bank dipped 0.7 percent.

Etisalat dragged Abu Dhabi's benchmark to an eight-week low
after paying out dividend, worsening the market's decline as investors withdrew
positions ahead of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

The telecom operator fell 3.3 percent.

Banks saw profit-taking from Tuesday's gains. First Gulf
Bank slipped 0.6 percent, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank shed 0.7 percent and Union
National Bank declined 0.3 percent.

The index dropped 1.2 percent to 2,641 points, its lowest
close since May 31.

"Unfortunately, we're approaching Ramadan in times of
uncertainty in international markets," said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president
and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments.

"We will see bluechips drifting down despite strong Q2
numbers generally. Real estate stocks are lagging behind, which is one of the
main drivers of UAE markets. This will cause a lag in positioning from
institutional which will negatively affect our markets."

Dubai's Emaar Properties ended 0.7 percent lower in late
selling following the company posting a 69 percent drop in quarterly net profit
on Tuesday and missed estimates.

Four analysts polled by Reuters estimated an average net
profit of AED358m.

Other stocks in the emirate also fell with Arabtec down 1.5
percent, Air Arabia shedding 1 percent and Drake and Scull slipping 0.6

The benchmark eased 0.3 percent to 1,507 point to a
four-week low.

Gulf Finance House dragged the index lower and other shares
slipped in a regional downtrend with global uncertainty weighing on sentiment.

GFH tumbled 5.1 percent to take its July losses to 14.5

Investors have been booking profits in the stock after its
chairman sold his $1.4m stake in the firm on Thursday, sending the stock price

The benchmark slipped 0.4 percent to 6,065 points, down for
a second day in last four.

Gold soared to a record high for the sixth time in two weeks
on Wednesday and the dollar collapsed to another record low against the Swiss
franc as investors sought safety from a possible US debt default. Equities were
weaker globally, particularly in Europe.

Oman's index halted two-day gains as investors waited for a
catalyst to spur buying.

Seven of the ten largest stock fall with Renaissance
Services falling 3.8 percent, Nawras slipping 0.6 percent and Ahli Bank down
0.8 percent.

The benchmark ended 0.4 percent lower at 5,925 points.

"On second-quarter numbers, we are comfortable with the
Oman banking sector," said Kanaga Sundar, Gulf Baader Capital Markets head
of research. "Industry sector earnings came out as a mixed bag for

Telecoms operator Nawras is expected to post quarterly
results after market close on Wednesday. Two analysts polled by Reuters expect
the company to post a net profit of about OR12m.