MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may lose steam as oil stalls – Reuters

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DUBAI Feb 21 Gulf stock markets may lose steam
on Sunday after rising strongly last week on hopes for a deal
among oil producers to prop up crude prices.

Officials in some producing nations are still talking up the
deal. Russia’s energy minister said on Saturday that
consultations on it should be concluded by March 1, so there
could be further surges in oil and equities prices before that

However, Brent crude pulled back 3.7 percent on
Friday to $33.01 a barrel, showing expectations among many
traders that the deal – if it goes ahead – will do little or
nothing to reduce massive oil supplies already in the market.

Several major Gulf bourses are near technical resistance,
where the local retail investors who bought stocks last week
could sell to take profits. Saudi Arabia’s index, last
at 5,884 points, faces resistance around the 6,000-point level,
from which it retreated twice in late January and early

Dubai’s index, last at 3,093 points, faces
resistance on the February peak of 3,125 points.

The latest Gulf corporate earnings have not been
particularly positive. Qatar Gas Transport Co
(Nakilat) posted a 12.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter net
profit to 226 million riyals ($62 million), lower than the 271.1
million riyals which QNB Financial Services had forecast.

Dubai construction firm Arabtec reported a net
loss of 360 million dirhams ($98.02 million) for the three
months to Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 94.4 million dirhams
in the corresponding period of 2014. An analyst at SICO Bahrain
had forecast Arabtec would make a quarterly net loss of 123.6
million dirhams.

And Aluminium Bahrain swung to a fourth-quarter
loss of 15.8 million dinars ($41.95 million), compared with a
net profit of 34.6 million dinars in the prior-year period and a
forecast by an analyst at SICO Bahrain, who had expected a
quarterly loss of only 3.7 million dinars.

Egypt remains weighed down by its currency crisis, with the
pound under pressure in the black market and yields on Treasury
bills rising at auction.

The African Export-Import Bank agreed on Friday a $500
million facility with the central bank of Egypt to help Egyptian
importers, but this will buy time rather than resolve the
underlying problem, an endemic shortage of hard currency.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may lose steam as oil stalls – Reuters}