January 19, 2020 / 1:26 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi index slips, weighed down by banks and Aramco

    * 9 of 11 Saudi banks slip
    * Aramco closes down to 34.4 riyals
    * Almarai drops on profit fall
    * Top lender supports Egypt

    By Maqsood Alam
    Jan 19 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian stocks closed lower on
Sunday, pulled down by losses at banking and energy firms, while
the indexes in Qatar and Dubai extended their gains to a
straight seventh day.
    Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.1%. Saudi Aramco
 weighted the index most with a 0.7% fall, extending
losses to a third day running.
    On Sunday, Al Rajhi Capital Research rated the Aramco stock
"neutral" in line with most other brokerages and set a target
price of 37.5 riyals ($10.00)per share.
    JPMorgan was the first major brokerage to initiate
coverage of Saudi Aramco with an "overweight" rating, setting a
price target of 37 riyals per share and saying it sees scope for
an increase in the energy giant's proposed $75 billion base
dividend.
    Saudi British Bank dropped 2%, while dairy firm
Almarai closed down 0.9% as its profit for the
fourth-quarter declined by 15.9% after increases in selling,
administration and general costs.
    Among the gainers was United Electronics which
jumped 5.1%, its biggest intra-day rise since May 15, 2019. The
company's said its fourth-quarter profit rose 14.6%.
 
    The Qatari index closed up 0.1%, with Qatar National
Bank gaining 0.3% and Qatar International Islamic Bank
 rising 0.8%.
    Dubai's index rose 1.2%, buoyed by a 2.2% increase
in its largest bank Emirates NBD and a 1.4% gain at
Emaar Properties.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index closed  down 0.1%, snapping a
six-session winning streak, with Emirates Telecommunications
Group slipping 0.4% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
(ADCB) dropping 0.6%
    On Thursday, ADCB said its Islamic lending unit Al Hilal
Bank had agreed to sell its Islamic insurance business and
operations.
    Outside the Gulf, the Egyptian blue-chip index rose
0.7%, supported by a 2.7% gain by Commercial International Bank
Egypt.
    On Thursday, Egypt's central bank left its overnight
interest rates unchanged, while keeping its deposit rate steady
at 12.25% and its lending rate at 13.25%.
    
        
 SAUDI ARABIA          slipped 0.1% to 8,449 points
 ABU DHABI            was down 0.1% to 5,174 points
 DUBAI                  rose 1.2% to 2,863 points
 QATAR                added 0.1% to 10,713 points
 EGYPT                  up 0.7% to 13,918 points
 BAHRAIN              was up 0.1% to 1,642 points
 OMAN                 was up 0.3% to 4,074 points
 KUWAIT               gained 0.7% to 7,141 points
 

($1 = 3.7517 riyals)

 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Pravin
Char)
  
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