* Annual dividend hike fails to boost Saudi Arabia’s Savola
* MedGulf rebounds on capital increase plan
* Cement shares resuming rising on NEOM building hopes
* Abu Dhabi’s TAQA rises after swinging to annual profit
* Qatar’s United Development rises on a moderate profit drop
By Andrew Torchia
DUBAI, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Middle Eastern stock markets were flat to lower on Thursday after global markets lost steam and oil prices fell, though the cement sector surged again in Saudi Arabia on hopes for government spending on building projects.
Saudi Arabia’s index slipped 0.2 percent with losers outnumbering gainers by 99 to 74. Food company Savola climbed in early trade after proposing to raise its cash dividend to 1 riyal per share for 2017 from 0.75 riyal for 2016, but it closed 0.6 percent lower.
Mediterranean & Gulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance jumped its 10 percent daily limit after its board proposed doubling its capital to 800 million riyals ($213 million) through an equity rights issue.
The stock had shed as much as 34 percent between late January and Tuesday after the central bank prohibited the company from issuing or renewing any insurance policy pending a capital increase, and after the securities regulator said it might suspend or cancel trading in the shares.
Cement shares resumed rising after Reuters reported the Saudi Arabian government has begun to award contracts for a huge business zone in the northwest of the country, asking local construction companies to build five palaces there. Tabuk Cement , located near the site of NEOM, surged 5.8 percent .
Dubai’s index slipped 0.9 percent as construction company Drake & Scull sank 3.5 percent.
But Abu Dhabi’s index edged up 0.1 percent as energy investment firm Abu Dhabi National Energy Co jumped 5.6 percent in unusually heavy trade. The company reported a swing to an annual net profit of 171 million dirhams ($46.6 million) from a loss of 18.55 billion in 2016 that was due to an impairment charge.
In Qatar, the index edged up 0.1 percent as real estate firm United Development gained 2.7 percent after reporting a 14 percent fall in annual net profit, in line with its first-half rate of decline, despite a further weakening of the local property market in the second half.
* Index fell 0.2 percent to 7,403 points.
* Index dropped 0.9 percent to 3,326 points.
* Index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,599 points.
* Index edged up 0.1 percent to 8,893 points.
* Index slipped 0.8 percent to 14,921 points.
* Index edged down 0.1 percent to 6,655 points.
* Index fell 0.3 percent to 1,333 points.
* Index gained 0.7 percent to 5,007 points. (Editing by Larry King)