Mideast stocks – Saudi stabilises after swings on Khashoggi case, Gulf firm

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Saudi Arabia’s stock market stabilised on Wednesday after swinging widely in recent days on concern that international pressure over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance could hurt foreign investment inflows.

The index <.TASI> traded in a very narrow range and ended 0.1 percent lower as trading volume almost halved, suggesting that a scramble by jittery local retail investors to exit the market had ended.

State-linked Saudi funds had appeared to buy blue chips to support the market on Tuesday, and this may temporarily at least have put a floor under stocks, fund managers in the region said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Riyadh on Tuesday may also have reassured some investors that the case can be resolved without serious damage to the economy. Pompeo said Saudi leaders strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their Istanbul consulate during a visit by Khashoggi and promised a serious and credible investigation.

Shares in National Commercial Bank <1180.SE>, which had jumped on buying by funds on Tuesday, retreated 3.5 percent on Tuesday. But top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries <2010.SE> rose 1.5 percent.

Yamama Cement <3020.SE> fell 0.5 percent after posting a loss for the third quarter as sales dropped because of steep price declines in the domestic market. But Al Jouf Cement <3091.SE> rose 0.9 percent after agreeing to sell cement and clinker to Sanad Trading and Marketing.

Middle East Paper <1202.SE> climbed 1.6 percent after signing a credit facility worth 100 million riyals ($26.7 million) with Bank Albilad <1140.SE> on Tuesday.

Qatar’s index <.QSI> rose 1.3 percent to 10,157 points, confirming a break above technical resistance at 10,003-10,028 points, the peaks in August and September, and triggering a bullish triangle suggesting further gains.

Industries Qatar <IQCD.QA> was up 2.9 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank <QISB.QA> added 1.8 percent after its net profit for the first nine months of this year increased.

The Egyptian blue-chip index <.EGX30> rose 0.9 percent as Edita Food Industries <EFID.CA> jumped 7.7 percent and Egyptian Resorts <EGTS.CA> gained 5.2 percent.

Dubai’s index <.DFMGI> added 0.5 percent, helped by real estate firms, with Emaar Development <EMAARDEV.DU> up 2.4 percent. Dubai Islamic Insurance <AMAN.DU> advanced 3.2 percent after saying it was raising its foreign ownership ceiling to 49 percent from 25 percent.

(Reuters)

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