October 19, 2016 / 6:10 AM / 9 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-SABIC's in-line Q3 profit may soften Saudi decline; Qatar may sag on weak Q3

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DUBAI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Fresh headline quarterly earnings results from major companies in the Gulf are set to swing investor sentiment on Wednesday, but the broadly in-line results from Saudi Basic Industries may steady the Riyadh index after three sessions of declines.

Headline third-quarter earnings of Saudi companies have come in mostly weak with some below expectations and that has dragged the main index down 4.1 percent so far this week.

But SABIC's results came in at the upper end of analysts' average expectations. The largest petrochemical producer posted a net income of 5.22 billion riyals ($1.39 billion), a 6.8 percent drop from the same period a year ago.

SABIC attributed the profit fall to lower average sales prices and a reduction in the quantity of products sold, which outweighed the benefits gained from a decrease in costs.

Saudi Cement, one of the kingdom's largest cement firms by market value, reported a 3.9 percent drop in its third-quarter net profit on Tuesday as sales dropped, selling and distribution expenses rose, and other income decreased.

Tabuk Cement, a mid-sized producer, also recorded a drop in profit for the three months to Sept. 30. Net income came in at 7.9 million riyals, a 14.1 percent year-on-year decline.

In Qatar, the index may likely be weighed by some disappointing results. Commercial Bank of Qatar, reported a third-quarter net loss versus a year-ago profit. It made a net attributable loss of 1.38 million Qatari riyals ($379,016.75), Reuters calculated based on financial statements in lieu of a quarterly breakdown. That compared with a profit of 275.93 million riyals in the same period a year earlier.

Qatar Insurance, the Gulf country's largest insurer by market value, reported a 6 percent fall in its third-quarter net profit at 108.8 million riyals ($29 million). EFG Hermes had forecast the insurer to post a profit of 312 million riyals. ($1 = 3.7490 riyals) (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Andrew Heavens)

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