Stock markets in the Middle East where foreign funds are most active outperformed for a second straight day on Wednesday, with Egypt’s index hitting a record high while Saudi Arabia was dragged lower by profit-taking.
Saudi Arabia’s stock market, which has little exposure to international funds, continued to underperform the region and the index lost 0.7 percent to 7,198 points, its largest decline since Dec. 19. Trading volume was the lowest this week.
The petrochemical sector was the main drag after oil prices fell about 2 percent overnight; the sector’s index slipped 1.1 percent.
Mid-sized Advanced Petrochemical, however, rose 0.2 percent after the company, the first to publish fourth- quarter earnings in the kingdom, reported quarterly net income of 210 million riyals ($56 million), up 44 percent from a year ago and beating NCB Capital’s estimate of 198 million riyals.
Egypt’s main index gained 1.5 percent to 12,608 points in the highest trading volume this week, surpassing the intra-day record high of 12,534 points hit on Dec. 22.
Palm Hills Development jumped 8.5 percent after saying it signed an agreement with the Ministry of Housing to buy a major plot in West Cairo to build a new project close to the company’s existing developments.
Foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Egyptian shares since Egypt floated its currency two months ago, remained buyers on Wednesday, bourse data showed.
Qatar’s index gained for a second session in row, closing 0.8 percent higher with 80 percent of shares in the index advancing. Real estate developer United Development was the top performer, jumping 4.9 percent in heavy trade.
A monthly Reuters survey of leading Middle East fund managers at the end of December found them bullish on regional equities in general, especially the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where they intend to capture high annual dividend yields.
Dubai’s index recouped early losses to close 0.4 percent higher as some of the largest listed shares were bid up. Emirates NBD, which is usually thinly traded, gained 2.9 percent.
Dubai Islamic Bank rose 0.4 percent after saying it had completed the sale of its stake in Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank to Bank Al Etihad and Etihad Islamic Investment Co. DIB held 20.8 percent in the Jordanian bank; the value of the sale was not disclosed.
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Teléfonica sells 40% of Telxius to investment group; OBS lands smart cities deal in Qatar; 3 enters the Matrixx; balloon goes up for EE.