| DUBAI, March 24
DUBAI, March 24 Saudi Arabia's real estate share
index rose to a 10-month high on bets the sector will benefit
from a new mortgage law being introduced, and Egypt's
heavyweight Orascom Construction Industries helped
lift Cairo's bourse.
In late February, the kingdom issued final regulations on
real estate financing, leasing and supervision of financial
companies as part of a planned mortgage law, which the
government hopes would help rectify a significant housing
shortage in Saudi.
Developers Taiba Holding surged 9.1 percent, Jabal
Omar climbed 1.6 percent and Makkah Construction and
Development added 2.2 percent.
"Taiba is an excellent company in terms of valuations and
growth but there is no fundamental reason behind this move,"
said Mohammad Omran, a Riyadh-based independent financial
analyst. "People are speculating on the mortgage law, which
presents a short-term opportunity."
Omran said that while the application of the law will be
gradual, other sectors such as banks and cements should also
Bottom-line impact from the long-awaited mortgage law could
take months, analysts said.
The real estate sector index rose 1.4 percent to
its highest level since May 2012. It outperformed the main
benchmark, which gained 0.6 percent.
In Egypt, heavyweight Orascom Construction Industries
gained 2.6 percent after a choppy session on
unconfirmed news reports it would soon resolve a tax dispute
with the government.
Various news reports have said OCI offered to pay an amount
of around 7 billion pounds to settle the case.
The Egyptian authorities have been investigating charges the
company failed to pay some 14 billion Egyptian pounds of taxes
on the sale of Orascom Building, an OCI subsidiary, to French
OCI said in a statement to the exchange that talks with the
tax authority were ongoing and it hoped to reveal details at the
"OCI will meet with the head of the authority this week to
seek solutions," an official at the Egyptian Tax Authority told
Reuters on Sunday, adding negotiations are ongoing with OCI.
Orascom Telecom (OT) rises after a newspaper
report said Algeria's government would lift sanctions on the
operator's unit Djezzy, while Cairo's bourse holds steady near
technical support levels in muted trade.
Sanctions on Djezzy that prohibit the company from making
payments in foreign currency and importing equipment will be
lifted, according to a report in Algerian newspaper Al-Fadjr.
OT said in a bourse statement "it has not been informed of
any fundamental developments regarding this matter," referring
to the news report. Shares in the telecom operator rose 2.9
Cairo's benchmark advanced 0.6 percent, extending
gains from a 14-week low.
Elsewhere, UAE markets slipped in muted trade as investors
turn cautious following an early-year surge and await
first-quarter earnings. Dubai's measure slipped 0.6
percent and Abu Dhabi's index eased 0.06 percent.
"There isn't any news in the market to grab investors'
attention - it's all about dividends," said Mohab Maher, senior
manager - institutional desk at MENA Corp.
"The market will go sideways or may correct this week then
rebound again in April for first-quarter results."
Corporate earnings season in Dubai will begin in late April.
Investors usually adjust holdings ahead of results.
Qatar's bourse declined 0.3 percent. The index has
traded within a 65-point range for the last week, signalling a
lack of momentum.
* The index rose 0.6 percent to 7,138 points.
* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 5,256 points.
* The index slipped 0.6 percent to 1,898 points.
* The index eased 0.06 percent to 2,993 points.
* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 8,579 points.
* The index gained 0.2 percent to 6,831 points.
The index advanced 0.6 percent to 6,169 points.
* The index declined 0.2 percent to 1,115 points.