* Huge housing deal lifts Egypt, Arabtec
* But execution is a concern
* Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan drops on no-dividend plan
By Nadia Saleem
DUBAI, March 10 Egypt's shares rose slightly on
Monday after a deal between the country's army and a Dubai
builder for an affordable housing project worth 280 billion
Egyptian pounds ($40.2 billion).
Cairo's benchmark index advanced 0.5 percent,
recovering early-session losses and boosting 2014 gains to 17.6
Under a deal with Cairo's army-backed government, Dubai's
Arabtec will build one million homes in a project that
will cover 160 million square meters across 13 sites in Egypt
for lower income individuals.
"People are a bit skeptical on the project," said Mohamed
Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities.
Some analysts said executing the colossal project could be a
"The scale of the project is... well beyond anything Arabtec
has previously managed," brokerage Arqaam Capital said in a
Politically and economically, the project is one of the
biggest initiatives since the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi
"It adds more value to Arabtec itself although there's only
a shallow performance in terms of magnitude." Shares in Arabtec
rose 1.7 percent.
Other UAE shares were choppy as investors looked for fresh
catalysts after an early-year surge. Dubai's measure
climbed 0.2 percent, taking 2014 gains to 23.1 percent but has
been trading sideways for three weeks.
Abu Dhabi's index fell 1.0 percent to its lowest
since Feb. 9. The measure has also been range-bound, trading
within a range of 200 points for four weeks.
"What you're seeing now is short-term uncertainty - Q4
earnings are out and Q1 is a few weeks away so it's a natural
lull at this time," said Sanyalaksna Manibhandu, senior analyst
at NBAD Securities. "We've had geopolitical concerns on Ukraine
and Qatar but I think there is more upside to prices this year."
He cited catalysts such as an MSCI upgrade to the emerging
market status that will take effect at the end of May, along
with possible earnings momentum for the first quarter.
Some of the optimism over the upgrade has already been
priced in, but there could be a further boost as index funds
flow in upon implementation. Analysts estimate UAE and Qatar
could both draw hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh
investment thanks to the upgrade.
Qatar's measure gained 0.6 percent, up for a third
session after last week's brief tumble because of a diplomatic
row in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
withdrew their ambassadors, apparently because of Qatari support
Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan fell 4 percent after
the firm's board proposed not to pay out 2013 dividends.
It said the decision would support future business growth,
but it has yet to be approved by shareholders at the annual
Saudi Arabia's measure was little changed at a
68-month high but turnover exceeded 10 billion riyals ($2.67
* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 7,976 points.
* The index gained 0.2 percent to 4,150 points.
* The index fell 1.0 percent to 4,829 points.
* The index gained 0.6 percent to 11,710 points.
* The index eased 0.07 percent to 9,344 points.
* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 7,492 points.
* The index ticked up 0.06 percent to 7,092 points.
* The index rose 1.2 percent to 1,387 points.