August 13, 2017 / 8:16 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE, Qatar underperform, Saudi flat in early trade

DUBAI, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf that are most exposed to foreign funds were the chief losers in early trade on Sunday, taking their cue from global bourses, where the mood was soured last week by growing tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The Dubai index was down 0.5 percent as most shares fell, including commodities shipper Gulf Navigation, which was down 3.0 percent despite reporting a rise in second-quarter profit.

Shuaa Capital rose 0.8 percent, however, after it swung to a second-quarter net profit of 12.1 million dirhams ($3.3 million) from a loss of 50.8 million dirhams a year ago.

The investment firm said provisions for the period fell to 11 million dirhams from 57 million dirhams and that the regional expansion of its real estate and brokerage units are its “high priority” in the near term.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.5 percent, weighed down by declines in blue-chip banks; Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank fell 2.2 percent.

Qatar’s index edged down 0.2 percent in very thin trade as 11 of the 20 most valuable companies declined. Qatar Investors Group was the worst performer, down 1.5 percent.

The Riyadh index was flat after 40 minutes of trade as 82 shares rose and 61 declined. Telecommunications firm Mobily was down 0.6 percent and its competitor Zain Saudi inched down 0.1 percent.

Local media reported that the telecommunications regulator and the Ministry of Commerce had closed one retail outlet from each company, and one of Saudi Telecom’s outlets, because of issues related to compliance with rules on hiring sufficient numbers of Saudi citizens.

“Although closing these three branches will have a minor impact on sales, we believe it reflects CITC’s (the regulator) commitment to improve the telecom industry in Saudi,” said a research note by NCB Capital. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alison Williams)

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