January 2, 2019 / 2:01 PM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Top bank boosts Egypt, Gulf falls in thin trade

    * Egypt's Talaat Mostafa rises on higher annual sales
    * Dubai's Aramex suffers biggest one-day loss in a year
    * Saudi stock index almost flat
    * Qatar's Mesaieed jumps after free shares distributed
    * United Development rises after asset sale

    By Shakeel Ahmad and Ateeq Shariff
    Jan 2 (Reuters) - Egypt's blue-chip stock index rose sharply
on Wednesday, boosted by its biggest bank, while all major Gulf
markets were weak, with some investors away on year-end
holidays.
    The Egyptian index rose 1.3 percent as Commercial
International Bank gained 1.9 percent.
    Real estate firm Talaat Mostafa rose 3.2 percent
after saying its sales last year reached 21.3 billion Egyptian
pounds ($1.2 billion), up from 13.1 billion pounds a year
earlier. 
    Orascom Development climbed 4.4 percent. It has
been strong since announcing at the end of last week that it had
sold some hotels, which would help reduce its debt.
    In Dubai - which fell 25 percent in 2018, the world's
worst-performing major stock market in local currency terms -
the index was down 0.4 percent.
     Courier firm Aramex dropped 4.4 percent in its
biggest one-day loss since December 2017.
    Dubai's largest listed developer, Emaar Properties
, shed 1.2 percent. 
    The Saudi Arabian index edged down 0.1 percent with
Samba Financial slipping 0.8 percent and Saudi
International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) dropping 2.7
percent.
    Qatar's index - one of the world's best performing
markets last year with a 21 percent gain - dropped 0.2 percent
with Industries Qatar falling 1.6 percent and Qatar
National Bank slipping 1.1 percent.
    However, Mesaieed Petrochemical jumped by its 10
percent daily limit. It said major shareholder Qatar Petroleum
had finished distributing a tranche of free incentive shares to
investors, which may improve liquidity in the stock.
    Real estate firm United Development Co gained 1.7
percent after saying it had sold its stake in Seef Ltd to Qatar
Petroleum for 214.4 million riyals ($59 million).
 SAUDI       The index         edged down
 ARABIA      0.1 pct to 7,791 points
 DUBAI       The index          lost 0.4 pct
             to 2,521 points
 QATAR       The index        fell 0.2 pct
             to 10,280 points
 ABU DHABI   The index        fell 1 pct to
             4,867 points
 EGYPT       The index          rose 1.3 pct
             to 13,204 points
 KUWAIT      The index        was up 0.7 pct
             at 5,305 points
 OMAN        The index        fell 0.7 pct
             to 4,302 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        dropped 0.6
             pct to 1,329 points
 
 (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Susan Fenton)
  
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