Egypt’s stock market tumbled on Wednesday as local investors booked profits made after the March 14 devaluation of the currency. Gulf markets were little changed as the region’s first-quarter earnings season began.
Riyadh’s index edged up 0.2 percent as the petrochemical sector recovered from the previous day’s losses and rose 1.0 percent after oil prices rebounded.
Advanced Petrochemical rose 3.0 percent, adding to a 1.0 percent gain on Tuesday when it announced a 62.9 percent jump in first-quarter profit.
The telecommunications sector was another top gainer, with Zain KSA and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) up 1.1 and 3.0 percent respectively.
Two blue-chip lenders, National Commercial Bank and Riyad Bank, dropped 0.8 and 2.2 percent as both shares went ex-dividend. Other banks were mixed.
Riyad Capital published a note on Tuesday saying that despite challenges facing the sector — sluggish loan growth and pressure on deposits, especially from an outflow of state funds and the increasing cost of money — banks under its coverage, including Samba Group and Saudi British Bank, were still rated “buys.”
“Overall, we believe loan demand remains strong but banks may be hesitant to increase exposure to small and medium-sized corporates,” added the note.
Investors in the region generally are cautious before first-quarter earnings and an oil producers’ meeting in Doha on April 17, which will discuss a proposed output freeze to prop up crude prices.
“Fund managers and long-term investors are eyeing the key meeting of top oil producers in Doha before rebalancing their portfolios,” said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor.
Dubai-based investment firm Shuaa Capital, which is 48.4 percent owned by a Dubai state-linked entity, jumped 4.6 percent. It has soared nearly 50 percent since mid-March in heavy trade, partly because of speculation that a strategic investor might be building a stake.
But Dubai’s index failed to hold onto early gains as investors sold off some large-cap stocks and it ended 0.6 percent lower. Emaar Properties dropped 0.8 percent.
“The rally from this year’s lows is over — for now — in the big-cap stocks, and speculators are targeting small and mid-cap companies,” said Henin, adding that the trend might continue until first-quarter corporate earnings were released.
Abu Dhabi’s index edged down 0.2 percent. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 2.8 percent to 6.32 dirhams, after falling by the same percentage on Tuesday. Its mean target price among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is 7.95 dirhams, with nine out of the 15 analysts rating the stock a “buy.”
Etisalat, which went ex-dividend on Tuesday, rebounded 0.8 percent and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) rose 1.9 percent. TAQA is now up over 10 percent since last week when the company reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss.
In Qatar, the benchmark edged up 0.2 percent in the lowest volume since Jan. 4. Gulf International Services , the oil rig provider, added 1.2 percent.
Source: Arab News