MIDEAST STOCKS-Regional shares mixed amid marginal profit-taking; Saudi up
DUBAI Oct 21 (Reuters) - Gulf shares were mixed on Monday as some investors booked profits from the previous session but an upbeat outlook remains intact for the third-quarter earnings season in most markets.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark gained 0.1 percent to a near two-month high. Earnings boosted the market on Sunday, while an optimistic global backdrop supported a rally across the region.
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co climbed 2.3 percent, extending Sunday's 9.6 percent jump after the company swung to a third-quarter profit. The stock was the most traded on the bourse.
"Petchems have been on the buying side by local and foreign investors," said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Saudi investment firm MASIC. "International investors have been looking at Chinese petchem prices which hit four-year highs. The better pricing and margins trends have been there since the summer and have solidified further with some more pricing momentum in early October - boosted by better demand and tight supply."
Investors are hoping for improved earnings from giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) - its shares slipped 0.7 percent after a 5.4 percent rally in the previous session.
Shares in Emaar Economic City rallied 4.2 percent in strong trading after the firm said it signed a 300 million riyals ($79.99 million) deal with Saudi Electricity Company for linking the city to the national electricity grid.
SEC gained 0.8 percent.
In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi's index rose 1.1 percent to its highest since Aug. 26.
The main support was First Gulf Bank, which surged 5.9 percent. Shares in the lender dropped 4.2 percent on Sunday amid a region-wide rally, which traders said was an error trade reversed on Monday.
Trading was otherwise lacklustre in the country.
Dubai's measure eased 0.03 percent, coming off Sunday's five-year high.
"The short-term outlook is still positive but it makes sense that people are taking some cash off," said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments. "The global lead is good, we have positive economic indicators and expectations of local q3 numbers are strong. The market should show more strength in the run-up to the results."
Qatar's index slipped 0.2 percent, trading in tight range since early October.
Shares in Qatar Islamic Bank, the Gulf state's fourth-largest lender by market value, were flat. The bank reported a 12.4 percent drop in third-quarter net to 345.1 million riyals ($94.8 million), trailing the average forecast of eight analysts in a Reuters poll who had expected 360 million riyals.
Vision Investment's Shurrab said that although Qatar's bourse has been trailing a surge in other Gulf markets, expectations for fourth-quarter earnings, which precede dividends, could help the market turnaround. Qatar's companies are among the highest dividend distributing firms in the region.
Kuwait's benchmark retreated 0.4 percent, slipping off Sunday's two-month high.
In Egypt, Cairo's main index climbed 0.7 percent as foreign investors returned as buyers after a long holiday in the region. Palm Hills Development was the biggest gainer, rising 5.8 percent.
* The index climbed 0.1 percent to 8,143 points.
* The index eased 0.03 percent to 2,909 points.
* The index rose 1.1 percent to 3,873 points.
* The index gained 0.7 percent to 6,090 points.
* The index retreated 0.7 percent to 6,657 points.
* The index declined 0.4 percent to 7,873 points.
* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 9,732 points.
* The index fell 0.5 percent to 1,198 points.