SABIC gains lift Saudi index; banks lift Qatar

UAE bourses end almost flat; volumes in Abu Dhabi slump to a two-week low
SABIC gains lift Saudi index; banks lift Qatar
Kuwait stock market
By Reuters
Wed 17 Aug 2011 10:44 AM

Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) led, as petrochemical stocks helped Saudi Arabia's market end higher.

SABIC climbed 1.9 percent after saying it is planning a $1bn-plus facility in China with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) to tap the Asian country's robust demand for plastics.

Yanbu National Petrochemical Co (Yansab) gained 0.4 percent, Saudi Industrial Investment Group rose 1.3 percent and Sahara Petrochemical Co climbed 1 percent.

The index ended 0.6 percent higher at 6,088 points.

Banks in Qatar helped lift the benchmark to a nine-day high, but trading volumes were low as investors wait for news to trigger buying.

Qatar National Bank climbed 0.6 percent, Commercial Bank of Qatar gained 3.4 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank rose 1.4 percent.

The index gained 0.8 percent to 8,203 points, its highest close since August 8.

"The global panic waves experienced showed that Qatar isn't resilient to global negative sentiment," says a Doha-based trader who declined to be named. "Fortunately, there's been [a] great local appetite [for] the market and that kept the market trading above the 8,000 range."

However, there is still room for a mild correction, the trader added.

Elsewhere, UAE bourses ended almost flat.

Volumes in Abu Dhabi slumped to a two-week low, with only 27 million shares exchanging hands. The index eased 0.03 percent to close at 2,585 points.

Dubai's trading was only marginally better at 38.5 million shares. The benchmark inched up 0.04 percent to 1,467 points.

Banks in Oman lifted the index but Renaissance Services dropped for a third straight session.

Heavyweight Bank Muscat rises 0.6 percent, National Bank of Oman climbs 0.7 percent and Bank Sohar gains 2.2 percent.

NBO, the sultanate's second-largest lender by assets, said on Tuesday the bank may see its profit growth slow for the full year amid uncertainty in global markets and increased competition in the local banking sector.

Muscat's benchmark rose 0.6 percent to 5,488 points, up after a two-day decline.

"The market saw a strong support today from local pension funds and retail clients came back with a focus on banking sector," said Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.

Oil services firm Renaissance dropped 6.3 percent, before trading in the stock was halted, and analysts are waiting for an investor call on Thursday with company officials.

"The suspension is because the market took a decision until there is further clarification from the company."

Renaissance said on Monday it discovered fraud at its unit Topaz, and saw a 77-percent drop in first-half net profit. Its shares dropped to their maximum allowed limit of 10 percent for two days each following the news and plummeted to an all time low.

Elsewhere, Kuwait's benchmark ended 0.2 percent lower at 5,833 points. The main drag was National Bank of Kuwait, down 1.9 percent.

Global Investment House surged 11.9 percent, extending gains for a second day after posting a narrower second quarter loss on Monday of KD16.7m ($61m). Its shares surged 13.5 percent after the news.

Saudi Arabia's index eased modestly despite strength in petrochemical stocks while insurance stocks attracted high volumes.

Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) rose 1.1 percent after saying it is planning a $1bn-plus facility in China with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) to tap the country's robust demand for plastics.

Yanbu National Petrochemical Co (Yansab) gained 0.2 percent, Saudi Industrial Investment Group rose 1 percent and Sahara Petrochemical Co climbed 0.8 percent.

Among insurance stocks, Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance shed 0.4 percent, while AXA Cooperative Insurance climbed 2.3 percent. Saudi investors tend to target insurance shares if there is little news flow to move other stocks, while foreign institutional traders are seen thinning out.

"When foreigners become more risk averse they pull back but there is a good argument for investment in Saudi because it's not that affected by what's happening globally," said Paul Gamble, head of research at Jadwa Investment.

"There is growth in government spending and it is a good source of diversification. I wouldn't expect too much from foreigners in the last week or so but I think the appetite is still there."

The broader index eased 0.04 percent to 6,051 points, down in three of last six sessions.


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