MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets end mixed in modest volumes – Reuters

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* Saudi’s SABIC helps lift index

* But trading volume concentrated in small, mid-tier stocks

* Egypt up in thin trade; Beltone Financial flat

* Dubai hives up early gains as local investors book profits

* Abu Dhabi, Qatar dragged down by blue chips

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, Feb 25 Stock markets in the Middle East
were mixed on Thursday with small and mid-sized stocks, favoured
by local retail investors, attracting the most trading volume in
Saudi Arabia while blue chips were the main drag in the United
Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Riyadh’s index added 0.6 percent in modest turnover
with Saudi Basic Industries adding 1.1 percent. Among
smaller stocks, Tihama Advertising and insurer Alinma
Tokio Marine jumped 2.1 and 4.9 percent respectively.

Abdulmohsen Al Hokair Group closed up 0.4 percent,
but well off its session high, after the tourism company
announced a cash dividend of 1.25 riyals per share for the
second half of 2015, taking the total for last year to 2.5
riyals per share, in line with 2014 payouts.

In Cairo, the index edged up 0.4 percent in thin
trade with non-Egyptian Arab traders net buyers while locals and
other foreign investors were net sellers, exchange data showed.

Real estate developer Amer Group Holding and
construction company El Saeed Contracting added 2.9
and 1.3 percent. Beltone Financial, which has more
than doubled its share price over the past 10 trading sessions,
closed flat in very low volumes.


Dubai’s index fell 0.4 percent to close at a
session low of 3,124 points, giving up early gains. Builder
Drake & Scull, favoured by local traders, continued to
attract heavy activity for a third straight session but fell 1.0
percent after trading up over 1.0 percent at one stage.

Similar trading patterns were seen in other mid-cap stocks
as local traders booked profits amid uncertainty over the
direction of oil prices and global equities. Union Properties
, which has also recently witnessed higher volumes,
traded up initially before falling back 1.1 percent.

The largest lender by market value, Emirates NBD,
fell 1.4 percent. The stock began trading ex-dividend on

The United Arab Emirates’ economy minister said on Thursday
that given low oil prices, it would be hard for the economy to
grow faster than 3 percent this year – a downgrade from his
previous forecast of 3.0-3.5 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark fell 0.7 percent in modest
volumes, weighed down by the banking sector. United Arab Bank
, a mid-sized lender, tumbled 9.8 percent. Last week it
was downgraded by Moody’s to Baa2 from Baa1 with a negative

Even blue-chip banks were sold off with First Gulf Bank
and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropping 2.0
and 1.5 percent.

In Doha, the index also shed 0.7 percent. Industries
Qatar and Qatar National Bank, which
collectively make up two-fifths of total market value, were down
5.0 and 2.0 percent.

Qatar Navigation (Milaha) closed flat after
trading up as much as 1.0 percent. The commodities shipper
reported a 40.3 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit to
136.4 million riyals ($37.5 million) on Wednesday. Analysts at
QNB Financial Services had expected Milaha to make a profit of
238 million riyals. Shares in the shipper are up over 6.0
percent since Feb. 1.

Kuwait’s market was closed for a national holiday.



* The index rose 0.6 percent to 5,976 points.


* The index gained 0.4 percent to 6,079 points.


* The index fell 0.4 percent to 3,124 points.


* The index dropped 0.7 percent to 4,251 points.


* The index retreated 0.7 percent to 9,847 points.


* The index slid 0.3 percent to 5,388 points.


* The index fell 0.6 percent to 1,182 points.

(Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alison Williams)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets end mixed in modest volumes – Reuters}