Profit-taking and weak first-quarter earnings weighed on Gulf stock markets yesterday, with Saudi Arabia’s index pulled lower by petrochemical shares after oil prices fell sharply, but Dubai’s Union Properties and Abu Dhabi’s TAQA bucked the trend.
Dubai’s index lost 1.0% as financially troubled builder Arabtec, which had jumped almost 11% on Wednesday after shareholders approved its capital restructuring plan, retreated 4.4%.
Union Properties, however, leapt 5.8% to close at 1.03 dirhams in its heaviest trade since January 23 and accounted for almost half of trading volume on the exchange.
It ended off its intra-day high of 1.12 dirhams, failing to conclusively break chart resistance at the end-February peak of 1.07.
Fund managers and traders said the reason for the jump was not clear but it could be related to positive corporate news that had not yet been disclosed.
“Shares of UPP moved against the grain, and if it was just market participants taking a contrarian view on the stock, it would happen gradually. The volume spike in today’s (Thursday) session suggests it’s a company-specific event,” one fund manager said.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co surged 7.1% in very heavy trade after its chief operating officer told Reuters it might sell some oil and gas interests in North America to raise capital for core businesses.
Profit-taking in other shares, however, pulled the Abu Dhabi index down 0.2%.
First Abu Dhabi Bank fell 0.5% after trading as much as 1.4% higher earlier in the day.
The lender, which was formed on April 1 by the merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, announced a 12.4% rise in combined “pro-forma” first-quarter net profit to 2.93bn dirhams ($798mn).
That was aided by a 145.5% jump in “other non-interest” income while loan impairment charges slipped 3.9%.
The Saudi index lost 0.7% as almost two-thirds of listed petrochemical shares fell, with heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries dropping 1.3 %.
Most Saudi banking shares also fell, with Saudi Investment Bank the worst performer, down 1.6%.
All Saudi banks have now reported first-quarter earnings; while results were mixed, most beat analysts’ expectations. The Saudi index was the worst performer in the Gulf for the week, down 2.5%.
In Egypt, the index edged up 0.1% in very low volume as Orascom Construction jumped 5.1%.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait’s index added 0.4% to 6,814 points; Oman’s index slipped 0.7% to 5,474 points, while Bahrain’s index was down 0.4% at 1,334 points.
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