February 15, 2018 / 1:04 PM / in 4 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi far outperforms Gulf, rate hopes boost Egypt

* Saudi Investment Bank surges after raising dividend

* Mobily continues falling after wider Q4 loss

* Much of Gulf dampened by mediocre earnings

* Real estate firms soft in Dubai

* Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties slides after annual earnings drop

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Thursday, encouraged by strong global bourses and a slight rebound in oil prices, while hopes for an interest rate cut boosted Egypt. But much of the Gulf was sluggish because of mediocre corporate earnings.

The Saudi index gained 1.2 percent in a broad rally; gainers outnumbered losers by 140 to 39. Al Rajhi Bank added 2.9 percent in its second heaviest trading volume this year.

Saudi Investment Bank rose 2.9 percent after saying it would pay an annual dividend of 0.6 riyal per share, up from 0.5 riyal for 2016.

But telecommunications firm Mobily, which had plunged 7.1 percent on Wednesday after reporting its fourth-quarter net loss more than doubled, dropped a further 2.3 percent.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.2 percent as DAMAC Properties, which on Wednesday revealed a 47 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit, lost 1.2 percent.

The biggest real estate firm, Emaar Properties, slipped 0.3 percent after it reported a 16 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit to 1.36 billion dirhams ($370.3 million), below SICO Bahrain’s forecast of 1.61 billion dirhams.

Union Properties edged down 0.1 percent after reporting an annual loss of 2.38 billion dirhams ($649 million) against a year-ago profit of 211.4 ‍​million dirhams; the figures implied a fourth-quarter loss of roughly 90 million dirhams.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.3 percent as telecommunications firm Etisalat fell 0.6 percent. It posted a 12 percent fall in quarterly profit to 1.97 billion dirhams, while SICO Bahrain had forecast 2.21 billion dirhams.

Aldar Properties dropped 3.1 percent after reporting a 28 percent decline in full-year profit attributable to owners, partly because of a one-time charge of 495 million dirhams. The company raised its annual dividend to 12 fils per share from 11 fils in 2016.

Qatar’s index fell 0.4 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical lost 1.4 percent, despite reporting a slight rise in annual profit and a hike in its dividend to 0.7 riyal per share from 0.6 riyal.

In Egypt, the index rose 1.1 percent as real estate developer SODIC surged 7.0 percent. Economists predicted the central bank would start a gradual easing of moentary policy at its meeting after the close on Thursday, thanks to falling inflation rates.

SAUDI ARABIA

* Index rose 1.2 percent to 7,510 points.

DUBAI

* Index fell 0.2 percent to 3,330 points.

ABU DHABI

* Index dropped 0.3 percent to 4,577 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 9,028 points.

EGYPT

* Index added 1.1 percent to 14,966 points.

KUWAIT

* Index slipped 0.2 percent to 6,764 points.

BAHRAIN

* Index fell 0.2 percent to 1,340 points.

OMAN

* Index added 0.2 percent to 5,017 points.

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