August 12, 2014 / 2:01 PM / 3 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Property stocks boost Egypt; soft oil price dampens Saudi

5 Min Read

* Cairo benchmark up 87 pct since army ousted Mursi

* Saudi Arabia ends 11-day rising streak

* But Saudi hospital firm Al Hammadi continues soaring

* Gulf Finance House rises in Dubai on sukuk plan

* Omantel edges up after Q2 earnings beat forecasts

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Property stocks led Egypt's main share index to a six-year high on Tuesday, while soft international oil prices ended an 11-day rising streak for Saudi Arabia's stock market.

The main Egyptian benchmark rose 0.4 percent, its sixth gain in seven sessions, to 9,274 points, bringing its gains to 87 percent since the army ousted president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.

SODIC, Egypt's third-largest listed property developer, jumped 9.5 percent, while its larger rivals Talaat Moustafa and Palm Hill Development Co gained 1.0 and 2.1 percent respectively.

"It's housing and real estate today, but the banking sector in the past few weeks was a major contributor to the index gains, led by CIB and EFG Hermes," said Mohamed Radwan, head of equities at Pharos Securities in Cairo.

Commercial International Bank (CIB) climbed 0.2 percent on Tuesday to stand up 39 percent in 2014, while EFG Hermes rose 2.9 percent to its highest close since January 2011.

"The market had been under pressure for three years - longer if you include the global financial crisis - and it made a fresh start with Mursi ousted and Sisi coming on board," said Radwan, referring to the election of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as president in May.

A Human Rights Watch report on Tuesday called for a United Nations enquiry into what the group described as systematic killings of demonstrators that likely amounted to crimes against humanity. This had no significant impact on the market.

"The market has been resilient to any negative news in recent weeks and months, even to terrorist attacks that happen on a random basis," said Radwan.

"This is because of high local participation in the market, compared to foreign investors who have been absent. If foreigners were more involved, we would have seen a more negative reaction."

"Institutions are getting more involved in Egyptian stocks in terms of both volume and value," said Allen Sandeep, director of research at Naeem Holdings in Cairo.

Yet foreign funds still account for under 10 percent of market turnover, he estimated. "Sooner or later that percentage will increase. We might see a few minor market corrections, but the longer-term trend is moving only one way and that is up."

Institutions have drawn confidence from government moves to cut energy subsidies, while the Egyptian pound's stability has boosted sentiment, Sandeep said.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's index slipped 0.1 percent from Monday's six-year high as Brent crude oil slumped to a nine-month low. This ended an 11-session winning streak that was sparked by authorities announcing plans to allow direct foreign ownership of shares from early next year.

"The announcement has led investors to not really look at market fundamentals, but the weakness in oil prices will have an impact, especially for Saudi's petrochemical companies, and so may trigger a correction," said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor in Abu Dhabi.

Henin also warned the impact of opening the market to direct foreign ownership might not be as significant as many investors were hoping.

"The market is not that cheap, so it's not such a great opportunity for foreign investors and the market is already very liquid," said Henin. "I think the news has been overbought."

However hospital firm Al Hammadi, a play on the Saudi health care industry which foreign investors are expected to favour, soared a further 10.0 percent to 94.0 riyals. It listed at an IPO price of 28 riyals in mid-July.

In the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai and Abu Dhabi benchmarks each fell 0.2 percent in sluggish trade.

The Dubai-listed shares of Gulf Finance House, however, rose 1.9 percent and trading volume surged after it said it would list a planned $200 million sukuk issue on NASDAQ Dubai.

The issuance, part of a previously announced scheme to restructure liabilities, will be conducted in coming months subject to regulatory approvals, the company said.

Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) rose 0.6 percent after it posted a flat second-quarter net profit of 31.5 million rials ($81.8 million) that beat analysts' forecasts, despite revenue declining.

Tuesday's Highlights


* The index fell 0.2 percent to 4,812 points.

Abu Dhabi

* The index dropped 0.2 percent to 4,987 points.


* The index climbed 1.1 percent to 13,279 points.

Saudi Arabia

* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 10,589 points.


* The index climbed 0.4 percent to 9,274 points.


* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 7,235 points.


* The index fell 0.7 percent to 1,478 points.


* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 7,292 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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