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Gulf loses steam as optimism over oil producer deal fades
February 22, 2016, 9:00 am

Most Gulf stock markets edged down on Sunday after oil prices pulled back on Friday, as optimism faded over a proposed deal among crude producers to cap output. A rise in shares of Commercial International Bank buoyed Egypt's bourse.

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

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.

The Saudi stock index, which rose 3.9 percent last week, fell back 0.1 percent on Sunday, though trading remained active. Saudi Basic Industries slipped 0.7 percent.

Some second-tier stocks continued to attract eager buying by local retail investors, however, with Middle East Paper surging its 10 percent daily limit and Al Tayyar Travel climbing 4.0 percent.

The Dubai stock index was almost flat. Real estate heavyweight Emaar Properties lost 0.8 percent. But construction firm Arabtec surged 8.3 percent after it 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 a year earlier.

An analyst at SICO Bahrain had forecast Arabtec would make a quarterly net loss of 123.6 million dirhams in the latest quarter. However, investors may have been encouraged by the fact that the firm's loss narrowed sharply from a 944.8 million dirham shortfall in the third quarter of 2015.

GFH Financial, the most heavily traded stock, surged 6.9 percent. It has been rising sharply since Abu Dhabi Financial Group's capital markets arm, Integrated Capital, said on Wednesday it had increased its stake in GFH to 10 percent. Previously its stake was 7.4 percent.

Qatar fell 0.6 percent as petrochemicals and metals producer Industries Qatar slid 1.6 percent.

But Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat) rose 0.4 percent after posting a 12.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit to 226 million riyals ($62 million) - although that was lower than the 271.1 million riyals which QNB Financial Services had forecast.

Qatari Investors Group, which plunged last week after it said it planned to delist from the market, jumped its 10 percent daily limit after it said it would hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting on March 6 to discuss the plan.

In Kuwait, mobile communications operator Ooredoo Kuwait jumped 9.4 percent after it raised its dividend for 2015 despite swinging to a fourth-quarter net loss.

Egypt's stock index gained 1.1 percent as Commercial International Bank added 1.9 percent, while Egyptian Iron & Steel surged 10 percent. But total trading volume in the market was modest.

Beltone Financial also surged 10 percent. It has more than doubled in the past eight trading days on expectations that its new owner, Orascom Telecom Media and Technology , will build it into a financial powerhouse.

Source: Reuters

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