MIDEAST STOCKS-Property firms lift UAE; Saudi banks, petchems pull back

Mon Sep 1, 2014 9:59am EDT

Related Topics

* Dubai's Emaar rises further ahead of malls unit's IPO

* Abu Dhabi's Aldar gains after selling residential tower

* Saudi banks pull back as regulator caps consumer lending fees

* Petchems also retreat, plant shuts for maintenance

* Egypt's El-Sewedy Electric up after Q2 earnings

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Property firms, led by Dubai's Emaar Properties which has said it will float its malls unit in September, helped lift stock markets in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, while the advance of Saudi Arabia's bourse slowed.

Dubai's main index rose 1.5 percent as Emaar, the emirate's biggest listed developer, jumped 4.5 percent to 11.65 dirhams, a fresh six-year high; trading volume in the stock was the highest since April 2010. However, Emaar closed well off its intra-day peak of 12.00 dirhams.

The stock had already soared 8.8 percent on Sunday after the announcement of the initial public offer, which will be one of the largest equity sales in the Middle East since 2008, underlining Dubai's recovery from a credit crisis that forced many state-linked developers to stall projects.

The firm had initially revealed in March its intention to sell up to 25 percent of the unit in an offer likely to raise 8 to 9 billion dirhams ($2.18-$2.45 billion). It will use proceeds from the sale to pay a special dividend to its shareholders.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark rose 0.9 percent as that emirate's largest listed developer, Aldar Properties, added 1.8 percent after announcing a sale of a residential tower for an undisclosed value. Another Abu Dhabi-listed developer, Ras Al Khaimah Properties, climbed 0.9 percent.

"Aldar is now entering a period of transformation that should underpin a rerating of the shares," BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research said in a report.

It cited a strong delivery pipeline of prime leasing assets, a revival of off-plan property sales in Abu Dhabi, and the rising value of Aldar's land bank on the back of higher transaction values.

Meanwhile, Qatar's bourse continued to recover from a 3.1 percent drop at the end of last week that was caused by one-off selling by foreign funds. The Doha index rose 0.8 percent on the back of banking stocks.

Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan added 2.9 percent, Qatar National Bank rose 1.8 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank climbed 2.3 percent.

SAUDI, EGYPT

Saudi Arabia's main index, which has been in an uptrend since the kingdom's regulator said in July it would open the market to direct foreign investment early next year, added just 0.04 percent.

Both banks and petrochemicals, the two major sectors which had led growth in the last few weeks, pulled back. The financial sector index slipped 0.1 percent and the petrochemicals benchmark edged down 0.4 percent.

One of the factors putting pressure on banking stocks was new consumer lending regulations published by the central bank. They cap fees that banks can charge borrowers and allow the regulator to limit the proportion of retail loans on any individual bank's loan book.

Brokerage EFG Hermes said the regulations would have an "overall negative" impact on banks' profits and stock prices.

"The imposition of caps on fees should substantially dent the retail loan income for banks, in our view, with the impact likely to be felt more by banks that have significant revenue contribution from retail banking business," it said in a note.

In the petrochemical sector, Sahara Petrochemical Co fell 0.7 percent after saying on Sunday that its affiliate, Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene Co (SEPC), would shut a ethylene and propylene plant for planned maintenance.

The impact on Sahara would be worth 3.8 million riyals ($1 million) in lost profit, Sahara said in a bourse filing. Another SEPC shareholder, National Industrialization Co (Tasnee) , slipped 0.5 percent.

Shares in Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma'aden), on the other hand, rose 0.9 percent after the company said on Monday its joint aluminium smelter with U.S.-based Alcoa has started commercial operations.

Egypt's bourse edged up 0.06 percent. Shares in El-Sewedy Electric, the largest listed cable maker in the Arab world, rose 1.4 percent to 38.00 pounds after the firm posted a 13 percent increase in second-quarter net profit.

"(The) results marginally beat our estimate both at the top and bottom lines," brokerage Naeem said in a note on El-Sewedy. It added, however, that overall, the quarterly results were neutral and it maintained a target price of 28.60 pounds.

MONDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

DUBAI

* The index added 1.5 percent to 5,141 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index climbed 0.9 percent to 5,129 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.8 percent to 13,700 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged up 0.04 percent to 11,117 points.

EGYPT

* The index edged up 0.06 percent to 9,452 points.

KUWAIT

* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 7,422 points.

OMAN

* The index edged down 0.2 percent to 7,356 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 0.2 percent to 1,474 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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