DUBAI, July 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank fell on Thursday, souring bourse sentiment after the kingdom’s largest listed lender posted a near-flat quarterly profit, while other Gulf markets gained on earnings optimism.
Thin trading volumes again plagued most markets on the second day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
Shares in Al Rajhi fell 1.6 percent, trimming 2013 gains to 15.8 percent. The lender posted near-flat earnings as pressure on net interest margins crimped bottom-line growth.
Rajhi shares rose 11.3 percent between June 16 and July 10, with its results announced after the market closed on Wednesday.
“It’s profit-taking and partly disappointment on Rajhi’s results - it did have a strong move in last few weeks and is trading at fair value now,” said Hesham Tuffaha, a Riyadh-based fund manager. “I don’t expect it to decline much further.”
Until recently, Rajhi was the largest bank in the Gulf by market capitalisation but has now lost top spot to Qatar National Bank. Both have double the market value of the region’s third-largest lender, National Bank of Kuwait .
Samba Financial Group, Saudi’s second-largest bank, shed 1.5 percent after its slight increase in quarterly profit failed to excite investors.
Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) lost 1.4 percent after it posted a shock 68 percent drop in second-quarter profit that it blamed on an ammonia plant shutdown and lower gold prices.
The kingdom’s benchmark slipped 0.2 percent, cutting 2013 gains to 13.1 percent.
In Doha, Qatar National Bank rose 1.3 percent to 161.5 riyals ($44.35), extending 2013 gains to 23.4 percent and heading back towards last week’s all-time high of 162.7 riyals.
The bank posted a 24-percent jump in second-quarter profit on Wednesday that beat analysts’ estimates.
“We remain positive on the bank’s outlook due to its strong growth in loan book, high capital strength, low cost of funding and stable inorganic growth,” Naveed Ahmed, research manager at Kuwait’s Global Investment House, wrote in a note.
In Dubai, the benchmark rose 1 percent to a three-week high, taking its 2013 gains to 47.4 percent.
“The main catalyst is Q2 numbers coming soon, which could support and further justify any rally going forward,” said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.
Elsewhere, Egypt’s benchmark index fell 0.9 percent, ending a two-day rally despite a pledge of $4 billion in an aid package from Kuwait late Wednesday.
Foreigners were net sellers against local buyers, according to bourse data.
Some local investors also booked gains ahead of a planned Muslim Brotherhood-led protest at the weekend.
* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 7,690 points.
* The index climbed 0.9 percent to 9,420 points.
* The index declined 0.9 percent to 5,277 points.
* The index rose 1 percent to 2,392 points.
* The index edged up 0.09 percent to 3,706 points.
* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 7,882 points.
* The index ticked up 0.07 percent to 6,491 points.
* The index eased 0.04 percent to 1,190 points.