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


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%.

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