Saudi slips, Almarai weighs on downbeat Q1

Most bluechips on Dubai's index marked losses with no gains in top nine stocks
Saudi slips, Almarai weighs on downbeat Q1
Emirati men sit under a stock market screen at Dubai Financial Market, on January 30, 2011 as stock markets in several Gulf countries, where many leading firms have interests in Egypt, dropped on mounting concerns over developments in the worldss most Arab nation.
By Reuters
Tue 05 Apr 2011 05:30 PM

Saudi Arabia's benchmark suffered losses for a third day, with the first of the quarterly earnings results disappointing investors.

Almarai Co, the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value, shed 0.8 percent. The company said on Tuesday its first-quarter net profit rose by 0.5 percent to SR235.2m ($62.72m).

"Almarai's numbers disappointed due to pressures from rising raw material prices," said Amro Halwani, a senior trader at Shuaa Capital in Riyadh.

Saudi Electric dragged the index lower after dividend payout. The stocks plummeted 5.3 percent.

Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) also weighed with a 0.2 percent fall.

"Investors are far more selective than they have been in recent weeks resulting in mixed performance within sectors with no major trend to talk of," said Halwani.

The index ended 0.9 percent lower at 6,548 points. Nine of the top ten stocks suffered losses. The benchmark is down one percent for 2011.

UAE markets slipped as trading is range bound, while Air Arabia fell to an all-time low after dividend adjustment.

Most bluechips on Dubai's index marked losses with no gainers in top nine stocks.

Air Arabia lost 1.46 percent, dropping to 0.74 dirhams, its lowest close ever.

"It's only an adjustment of dividend, by 0.08 dirhams," said Kareem Murad, transport analyst at Shuaa Capital, adding that while the fall is insignificant, investors are waiting on first-quarter earnings that will be affected by downward pressure in yields and rising fuel costs.

The benchmark shed 0.7 percent to close at 1,538 points.

Abu Dhabi's index slipped 0.4 percent to 2,590 points, to a new three-week low.

Heavyweight Etisalat weighed for a second day, falling 0.5 percent. First Gulf Bank dropped 1.8 percent, also extending Monday's losses.

Kuwait's index ended almost flat at 6,304 points, a week-high, supported by Zain which gained 1.5 percent.

Oman's index edged higher for a third day, taking support from Galfar Engineering.

The stock gained 4.2 percent, boosting the benchmark to climb 0.3 percent to 6,290 points in a third-day rally. Volumes hit a four-week high. "Yesterday's meeting of contractors with tender board regarding issue of classifications of contractors as local and international, seems to be positive for local contractors," said Gunjan Gupta, head of research at Oman Arab Bank.

The analyst said no decision has been made by the tender board but local contractors like Galfar may benefit from a price escalation clause if implemented. Bank Muscat gained one percent in a third-day gain as investors perceived the stock on its value.

"Index is trying to (cross) 6,300 points supported by all the sectors especially banking and investment," she said.

"Speculation on mid-cap stocks continued, reflecting investors' increasing risk appetite."

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