MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Abu Dhabi bourses buck Gulf downtrend

Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:45am EST

Related Topics

* Saudi banking index up 2.6 pct

* Abu Dhabi lender FGB climbed 3.1 pct, lifting bourse

* Global cues weigh on other Gulf mkts

By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi bourses bucked a downbeat Gulf trend as earnings and dividend disclosures lured buyers, while other markets tracked a sell-off across global equities.

Saudi banking shares rallied, moving the sector's index up 2.6 percent - its biggest one-day gain in more than four months - after Riyad Bank proposed to double its capital to 30 billion riyals ($8 billion) through bonus shares issued.

Shares in Riyad Bank surged 9.2 percent to their highest since June 2008.

"Overall you have certain good stories in the banking sector but if there's a move in U.S. markets beyond the expected tapering story - you'll see a reflection of the same happening in Saudi Arabia," said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Saudi investment firm MASIC.

Global equities hit 2-1/2 month lows on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut another $10 billion off its monthly bond buying programme, raising concern about more emerging markets weakness.

Sfakianakis said that although the market is starting to get pricey, fresh buying that comes in on market dips should help maintain its resilience.

Saudi Arabia's index climbed 0.7 percent, recovering almost all of the week's losses; just short of last week's five-year high.

Abu Dhabi's heavyweight First Gulf Bank jumped 3.1 percent to 20 dirhams per share after the lender increased its 2013 dividend payout by 20 percent and posted record quarterly results that beat estimates. The bank also recommended to the board a 30 percent bonus share payout for 2013.

FGB closed below the all-time intraday high of 20.55 dirhams. It was the main support on the emirate's index, which climbed 0.3 percent to a new five-year high.

A negative global backdrop triggered profit-taking on Dubai's benchmark, which shed 0.6 percent but rose 11.9 percent in January.

"Things were bad before and now they're worse - with the global environment seeming shaky, local investors are wary of putting more money in markets that have had among the best worldwide performance year-to-date," said Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at The National Investor.

Selling is mostly driven by retail investors, despite there being little local vulnerability to emerging market jitters since Gulf fiscal surpluses are independently strong.

"So far, the market has been resilient but if there is more selling on emerging markets, we could see more profit-taking," Henin said. "A lot of hot money is still in the market and it's quick to go."

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 8,761 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index climbed 0.3 percent to 4,673 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.6 percent to 3,770 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 0.8 percent to 11,156 points.

OMAN

* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 7,087 points.

EGYPT

* The index climbed 0.4 percent to 7,405 points.

KUWAIT

* The index declined 0.2 percent to 7,756 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 0.4 percent to 1,294 points.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.