March 5, 2019 / 1:34 PM / in a month

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar hits 2-month low, major Gulf markets down

    * Al Yamamah on 5-month high after contract 
    * Vodafone Qatar slides on reduction of nominal value of
shares 
    * Non-Qatari investors net sellers on Tuesday 
    * Egyptian Chemical Industries falls after project update

    By Ateeq Shariff and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan
    March 5 (Reuters) - The Qatar stock market slid to a
two-month low on Tuesday, weighed down by its blue-chips, while
major Gulf bourses fell across the board, mostly pressured by
financial shares.
    Qatar's index fell 1.1 percent, with Vodafone Qatar
 losing 3.2 percent after approving a regulatory
decision to reduce the nominal value of its shares to 1 riyal
each.
    Qatar National Bank, the largest lender by assets
in the Middle East and Africa, dropped 2.7 percent and
Industries Qatar slid 2.4 percent.
    The Qatar exchange jumped 21 percent in 2018 to become one
of the world's best-performing markets for the year, also helped
by limits being lifted on foreign ownership of shares.
    But the index has fallen 2.5 percent this year, with
non-Qatari shareholders being the net sellers in this session.  
    "The Qatari market was artificially supported last year
(since the embargo) by the government and related entities. It
is expensive given the growth that it offers," Khaled Abdel
Majeed, Managing Partner at MENA Capital said, adding the
government might "probably" step in if the decline accelerates.
    The Saudi index dipped 0.1 percent with Al Rajhi
Bank sliding 0.3 percent and Saudi Basic Industries
 losing 0.2 percent.
    But Al Yamamah Steel Industries surged 9.9 percent
to a five-month high after it signed a $106.7 million contract
to supply solar steel structure to the Dubai Solar Park Project.
    Tadawul, Saudi Arabia's main stock exchange and the Middle
East's largest, will join the FTSE Russell and MSCI emerging-
market indices in March and May this year.
    The Saudi stock exchange expects passive fund inflows of
between $15 billion and $20 billion this year as it gears up for
inclusion in emerging market benchmarks, its chief executive
told Reuters.
    Arqaam Capital said it still expects $20 billion of passive
inflows just from joining MSCI and FTSE EM in 2019. Additional
active inflows should take the total to $40-$60 billion.
    Weakness in property stocks weighed on the Dubai index
, which closed 0.3 percent lower. Emaar Malls
dropped 2.9 percent and its sister company Emaar Development
 was down 3.1 percent.
    Dubai property prices have been slipping from their mid-2014
peak and were partly behind the index's worst performance in
local currency terms compared with other major global markets
last year.
    Although Dubai stocks have rallied this year, led by strong
fourth-quarter results at real estate companies, an expected
further fall in property prices is capping gains.
    Nasdaq-Dubai listed DP World slipped 2 percent. The
port operator has asked an Indian court to halt an investigation
into alleged antitrust violations at the country's largest
container port, in Mumbai, saying the regulator was seeking
excessive information, Reuters reported.
    Egypt's blue-chip index fell 0.6 percent with its
largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt
sliding 2 percent and Egyptian Chemical Industries
decreased 1 percent. 
    Egyptian Chemical provided an update on a project, saying
cost may reach up to 15 billion Egyptian pounds ($859.35
million) after rehabilitation of existing factories.
    Abu Dhabi's index was down 0.3 percent with the
country's biggest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, falling
0.7 percent.

 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         slipped 0.1 pct to 8,561 points
 DUBAI         The index          was down 0.3 pct at 2,637 points
 QATAR         The index        fell 1.1 pct to 10,010 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        lost 0.3 pct to 5,087 points
 EGYPT         The index          was down 0.6 pct at 14,728 points
 KUWAIT        The index        rose 0.4 pct to 5,572 points
 OMAN          The index        gained 0.3 pct to 4,166 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        added 0.1 pct to 1,414 points
 

($1 = 17.4550 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru)
  
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