MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf mkts rise, China worries weigh on Saudi petchems

Wed Apr 9, 2014 11:24am EDT

Related Topics

* Saudi Alinma Bank drops after publishing Q1 results

* Saudi petrochemicals also edge down

* Some investors concerned about dependence on China -analyst

* Qatar National Bank rises before Q1 profit matches estimates

* Bank, construction stocks lift UAE bourses

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, April 9 (Reuters) - Banks and petrochemical stocks weighed on Saudi Arabia's bourse on Wednesday, in contrast to other Gulf markets where Qatar led regional gains.

The Saudi index slipped 0.2 percent to 9,543 points, despite recording its highest trading volume in two years.

Alinma Bank spearheaded turnover, dropping 2.1 percent after reporting its first-quarter results. Alinma's profit rose 33 percent to 293 million riyals ($78.13 million).

Petrochemicals were also in retreat. Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co dropped 2.7 percent and Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical fell 2.2 percent.

"There has been talk about the potential effect of the slowdown in China on the Saudi petrochemical industry in general," said Abdullah Alawi, assistant general manager and head of research at Aljazira Capital.

"People are afraid that such a high dependence of Saudi petrochemicals on the Chinese market might have an adverse effect on the first-quarter results."

He said China and East Asia account for more than half of Saudi producers' sales, although product prices have remained stable and so sector earnings are unlikely to suffer for now.

"(But) we have to realise that the market is a bit overvalued in general and a correction is waiting to happen," Alawi added. "It is nothing to be afraid of."

QATAR, UAE

Qatar's index rose 1.5 percent to 12,375 points, with most stocks in the black as first-quarter earnings started to trickle in.

Qatar National Bank, the largest bank in the Gulf Arab region, gained 1.3 percent. After market hours, the bank reported a 13.7 percent rise in quarterly profit to 2.43 billion riyals.

This was broadly in line with the average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters, who expected a net profit of 2.45 billion riyals for the quarter.

Abu Dhabi's index climbed 1.2 percent to 5,068 points. National Bank of Abu Dhabi was the main support, rising 3.6 percent.

Its smaller rival National Bank of Ras al-Khaimah added 4.1 percent. The lender said this week its shareholders would meet on May 1 to decide whether to up its foreigner ownership limit to 40 percent.

Dubai's index climbed 0.9 percent to 4,786 points. Contractor Arabtec Holding, which is expected to profit from a resurgent construction sector, was the main gainer, adding 3.9 percent.

Shares in bourse operator Dubai Financial Market climbed 3.1 percent, extending gains after a senior policymaker said the exchange's proposed merger with Abu Dhabi's bourse had been agreed in principle, though nothing had been finalised.

WEDNESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index slid 0.2 percent to 9,543 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.9 percent to 4,786 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index gained 1.2 percent to 5,068 points.

QATAR

* The index added 1.5 percent to 12,375 points.

EGYPT

* The index climbed 0.8 percent to 7,768 points.

KUWAIT

* The index rose 0.4 percent to 7,572 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 1,388 points.

($1 = 3.7503 Saudi Riyals) (Editing by Matt Smith)

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