MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi's Aldar at 4-year high; Egypt hits 8-week low

Sun Apr 6, 2014 9:48am EDT

* Aldar surges as firm mulls floating subsidiary

* Egypt down 15 pct from March 26's five-year peak

* Some blue chips plunge nearly 10 pct on Sunday

* Dubai drops for first session in six

* Saudi Arabia earnings have little impact

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, April 6 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties hit a four-year high on Sunday after it unveiled tentative plans to float a subsidiary, lifting the emirate's bourse, while Egypt's market slumped to an eight-week low.

Other Middle East markets were muted as Saudi Arabia investors showed little reaction to a slew of first-quarter earnings, and Dubai eased from Thursday's five-year peak.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar surged 5.1 percent to its highest close since May 2010. The state-run developer said it might float property management unit Khidmah through an initial public offer sometime in coming years.

RAK Properties, a favourite target for retail investors' speculation, climbed 14.5 percent, while Abu Dhabi's main index rose 0.9 percent to a five-week high.

Neighbouring Dubai eased 0.6 percent, its first decline in six sessions. Emaar Properties and Dubai Financial Market were the main drags, sliding 1.7 and 2.0 percent respectively.

In Saudi Arabia, Almarai fell 0.8 percent after the dairy firm posted a 7.3 percent increase in first-quarter profit that was marginally below analysts' estimates.

Saudi Hollandi Bank's 20 percent rise in first- quarter profit helped the lender's shares end only 0.8 percent higher.

The bank "will maintain double-digit growth in net profit in 2014 and 2015 and will outperform peers", NBK Capital wrote in a note, adding however that the stock's sustained surge - it has gained 79 percent since the start of 2013 - meant it had limited upside.

Riyad Bank rose 0.3 percent after the kingdom's third-largest lender by assets said it made a first-quarter profit of 1.08 billion riyals ($288 million), up 13.5 percent from a year earlier.

EGYPT

Egypt's main index dropped 2.3 percent to its lowest close since Feb. 11. The benchmark has fallen 14.7 percent from March 26's five-year closing high.

The sell-off came after Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would run for president; investors, most of whom favour Sisis, had bid up the market ahead of the announcement and took profits afterwards. The market is still up 10.9 percent year-to-date.

"Investors are bearish in the short term," said Mohamed Radwan, head of equities at Pharos Securities in Cairo. "The most hammered stocks are the retail favourites, while the blue chips are suffering as well."

Telecom Egypt fell 9.4 percent, Citadel Capital slid 9.2 percent and property developer Talaat Moustafa dropped 8.5 percent.

"Local institutions are selling on fears of further declines in the market," added Radwan. "The (Sisi) announcement was the trigger for people to think the market was over-bought."

A gradual weakening of the Egyptian pound to multi-month lows against the U.S. dollar in recent days has also hurt market sentiment, reviving talk that Egypt may eventually have to depreciate its currency further to stimulate growth.

SUNDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

EGYPT

* The index fell 2.3 percent to 7,524 points.

DUBAI

* The index dropped 0.6 percent to 4,590 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.9 percent to 4,966 points.

QATAR

* The index climbed 1.0 percent to 12,098 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 9,531 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 7,583 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 1,374 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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