July 29, 2018 / 8:16 AM / 23 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks edge down as SABIC shares move sideways

DUBAI, July 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock index opened slightly lower on Sunday as Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) dragged down the market.

Most other Gulf indexes were also lower after oil prices fell on Friday, weighed down by a drop in the U.S. equities market.

Shares in SABIC edged down 0.3 pct in quiet, early trade after the company reported an 81 pct year-on-year leap in second-quarter net profit to 6.70 billion riyals ($1.79 billion). Analysts had on average expected 5.8 billion riyals, and some believe the stock is over-valued.

Although the stock is richly valued at over 20 times trailing earnings, it is likely to attract further buying by foreign passive funds related to the Saudi market’s entry into MSCI and FTSE Russell emerging market indexes next year.

SEC skidded by 2 percent after the Gulf’s largest utility firm reported a 17.3 percent drop in second-quarter net profit as revenues from electricity services fell and financing costs rose. The results fell short of two analysts’ forecasts.

Saudi Telecom Company gained 0.4 percent after the it announced after the market close on Thursday a 3.7 percent rise in second-quarter profit to 2.44 billion riyals. That was in line with the average forecast of three analysts polled by Reuters.

The main stock index was 0.7 percent down in early trade.

In Dubai, Emaar Properties slipped 0.9 percent, while Emirates NBD fell 0.5 percent.

The main index edged down 0.25 percent.

First Abu Dhabi Bank fell 0.7 percent, continuing a decline from the end of last week after the lender reported a 19 percent year-on-year gain in quarterly profit.

Dana Gas slipped 0.9 percent. The main index was down 0.4 percent.

Qatar’s benchmark slipped by 0.4 percent, with Qatar National Bank, the main mover, dipping 1.4 percent. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) (Reporting by Tom Arnold and Andrew Torchia Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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