December 24, 2017 / 1:39 PM / in a year

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf slips in thin trade, Egypt hits record high

* Many foreign investors away for Christmas holidays

* Dubai’s Aramex sinks to lowest level since early February

* Bahraini banks heavily traded in Dubai

* Abu Dhabi sees thinnest trade this year

* Egypt’s Tora Cement, Suez Bag fall after stake sale below market

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets slipped on Sunday as trading volumes were mostly low because of the absence of many foreign investors for Christmas holidays. Egypt rose to a record high but volume was very low there too.

The Saudi index fell 0.4 percent as telecommunications firm Zain Saudi lost 2.0 percent and rival Mobily dropped 2.4 percent.

Arabian Cement fell 1.2 percent after saying its merger talks with Al Safwa Cement had ended without agreement. It did not elaborate.

But Saudi Printing & Packaging gained 1.3 percent after saying its board had decided to remove Ghassan bin Mohammed Zaatari from the post of chief executive and appoint Fahad Ibrahim al-Mufarraj as managing director pending the appointment of a new CEO. The company did not explain why it made the change.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.5 percent as courier firm Aramex sank 5.4 percent to its lowest level since early February.

But Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank, the most heavily traded stock in Dubai, jumped 6.1 percent to 1.04 dirhams after a disclosure on the Bahrain exchange showed a key person involved with the bank had on Thursday bought 250,000 shares at 0.104 and 0.105 dinar. In Bahrain, the stock rose 1.0 percent to 0.106 dinar, equivalent to 1.03 dirhams.

Khaleeji Commercial Bank, another Bahraini bank which listed in Dubai last Tuesday, was the second most active stock in Dubai and closed 2.7 percent higher at 1.51 dirhams, after soaring 15 percent at one stage.

It came off its highs after its shares in Bahrain, which initially surged, turned down to close at 0.120 dinar, equivalent to 1.17 dirhams - suggesting investors weren’t willing to sustain a premium of more than about 30 percent in the Dubai market.

Abu Dhabi’s index slipped 0.5 percent in its thinnest trade this year while Qatar’s index fell 0.3 percent.

Kuwait sank 1.1 percent but National Industries Group, the most active Kuwaiti stock, rose 1.3 percent after saying it had agreed to sell its 24 percent stake in Jordan’s Airport International Group and would make a profit of 15.9 million dinars ($52.6 million).

Egypt’s index rose 0.8 percent but trading volume was at one of its lowest levels this year. Tora Cement fell 3.6 percent and Suez Bag plunged 10 percent to 34.85 pounds after Tora said it had sold its 4.52 percent stake in Suez Bag for 26.01 pounds per share.‍​ ‍


* The index fell 0.4 percent to 7,181 points.


* The index fell 0.5 percent to 3,349 points.


* The index dropped 0.5 percent to 4,326 points.


* The index fell 0.3 percent to 8,600 points.


* The index rose 0.8 percent to 14,791 points.


* The index dropped 1.1 percent to 6,343 points.


* The index rose 0.4 percent to 1,286 points.


* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 5,055 points. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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