MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH Financial rises on stake sale; Dubai lacklustre – Reuters

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DUBAI, March 22 Shares in GFH Financial Group
rose on Tuesday after the Islamic investment
bank said it had agreed to sell a 10 percent stake in Bahraini
cement producer Falcon Cement Co.

GFH’s Dubai-listed shares rose 2.3 percent. It has yet to
trade in Bahrain, which opens for trading at 0700 GMT.

GFH will sell the Falcon Cement stake to Integrated Capital,
the capital markets arm of Abu Dhabi Financial Group. Integrated
Capital also expressed interest in underwriting a proposed
initial public offer of shares by Falcon on the Bahrain bourse
later this year, according to a GFH statement on Tuesday.

Other Dubai stocks made little headway. Rival developers
Union Properties and Deyaar rose 1.2 and 1.6
percent respectively, but these are relative minnows compared
with market bellwether Emaar Properties, which dropped
1.1 percent.

Air Arabia fell 6.6 percent after the budget
carrier went ex-dividend, helping drag Dubai’s index
0.5 percent lower to 3,362 points. That trimmed the benchmark’s
gains since mid-January’s two-year low to 28.2 percent.

“The quality names rebounded the most – people have looked
carefully at the full-year results and guidance management has
provided for 2016 and those that have released something good or
great have seen their prices moving higher,” said Sebastien
Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor.

Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.8 percent, although about
two thirds of the shares traded were in Eshraq Properties
and Ras Al Khaimah Co. For White Cement, two
mid- to small-cap companies.

Institutions do not trade such stocks and the lack of
activity in large-cap firms usually indicates waning market
momentum. Eshraq was up 1.3 percent, while Ras Al Khaimah Co.
For White Cement was flat.

“I’m pretty optimistic on the UAE,” said Henin, citing the
lifting of sanctions on Iran and Dubai’s hosting of the Expo
2020 event as likely catalysts for the emirates’ economy.

The UAE, particularly Dubai, has historically been a major
trading partner and hub for Iran, while the Expo is expected to
spur multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments in the host

(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH Financial rises on stake sale; Dubai lacklustre – Reuters}