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MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets stay weak, ADNOC plans boost Abu Dhabi
November 21, 2017 / 2:13 PM / 22 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets stay weak, ADNOC plans boost Abu Dhabi

* Saudi’s National Commercial Bank loses 1.8 percent

* Savola drops after Morgan Stanley cuts target price

* Dubai’s Emaar continues fall on unit’s IPO pricing

* Etisalat gains 1.2 percent in Abu Dhabi

* Qatar down 0.5 percent to new six-year low

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

DUBAI, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Most Middle East stock markets fell on Tuesday, weighed down by geopolitical worries, but Abu Dhabi was boosted by government plans to privatise parts of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC).

Saudi Arabia’s stock index fell 0.4 percent on the back of weak banks and cement shares. National Commercial Bank , the largest lender, lost 1.8 percent while Riyad Bank fell 1.2 percent. Northern Cement lost 1.1 percent.

Food maker Savola dropped 2.3 percent to 35.65 riyals after Morgan Stanley cut its target price for the stock to 44 riyals from 50.6 riyals.

Growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Lebanon and Yemen have hurt Gulf equities in recent weeks. Also, while state-linked funds appeared to support the Saudi market in the past two weeks, to prevent the kingdom’s anti-corruption prove from causing panic, this support operation has become less active in recent days.

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged up 0.5 percent after ADNOC’s chief executive described in a Reuters interview a major shake-up plan to privatise its services businesses, venture into oil trading and expand partnerships with strategic investors. On Monday, the company detailed plans for the initial public offer of shares in its distribution unit.

These steps could attract fresh portfolio funds to Abu Dhabi and increase its weighting in global equity indexes.

Telecommunications firm Etisalat gained 1.2 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rose 2.1 percent.

In Dubai, the index fell 0.2 percent as Emaar Properties declined a further 1.0 percent to 7.60 dirhams, testing major technical support at that level, which was its low early this month and resistance between March and May.

The stock has been sliding since last week, when it priced the initial public offer of its local real estate development unit in the lower half of an indicative range.

Qatar fell 0.5 percent to a new six-year closing low as large caps slipped, with Islamic bank Masraf al Rayan falling 0.9 percent and telecommunications firm Ooredoo diving 6.5 percent.

But Qatar Insurance added 3.6 percent after saying it had renewed the business licence for its branch in Abu Dhabi. Two months ago, it had said the branch would close because it could not renew the licence amid the diplomatic dispute between Qatar and its neighbours.

The company did not explain why its plan had changed, and it was not clear whether this indicated any easing of tensions between governments in Abu Dhabi and Doha.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 6,778 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 3,411 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 4,310 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 0.5 percent to 7,769 points.

EGYPT

* The index inched up 0.3 percent to 13,725 points.

KUWAIT

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 6,232 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index lost 0.2 percent to 1,264 points.

OMAN

* The index lost 0.2 percent to 5,077 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia, Larry King)

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