Saudi stocks fall 1.2% to 3-year low

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Saudi Arabia’s bourse slid in the last hour of trade on Monday to end lower for a third session as crude prices extended a slump, while markets in Egypt, Qatar and the UAE made slight rebounds following sustained declines.
Brent prices tumbled to $36.78 by 1233 GMT, dropping further toward 11-year lows. O/R
Saudi Arabia’s index fell 1.2 percent to a three-year low of 6,686 points. Selling intensified as Brent prices fell below $37, Reuters data showed.
Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), the Gulf’s largest stock by market value, also fell 1.2 percent.
Almarai bucked the trend, jumping 5.6 percent to SR80 after it announced a dividend distribution of 1.15 riyals per share for 2015. This is 15 percent higher than 2014’s dividend and will be the dairy company’s biggest payout since 2011.
Almarai also said it would raise its capital by 33 percent by issuing 1 bonus share for every 3 held. The capital boost is aimed at supporting the food producer’s five-year 21 billion riyal ($5.60 billion) spending program.
Dubai’s bourse climbed 1.2 percent as 19 of the 21 traded stocks ended higher. The index had hit a two-year low a day earlier.
Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.6 percent, recovering some of Sunday’s losses as Etisalat, the UAE’s largest listed company, added 1 percent.
Fellow bluechips First Gulf Bank and Aldar Properties were among the other gainers, each jumping 1.8 percent.
Qatar’s bourse rose 1 percent as all but one stock gained, although it remains near a two-year low.
Heavyweights Qatar National Bank and Masraf Al-Rayan climbed 0.1 and 0.2 percent respectively. Combined, the banks account for about a third of Qatar’s total market capitalization.
In Kuwait, mobile operator Viva tumbled 9.1 percent to 1 dinar after parent firm Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) said it would offer 1 dinar per share to buy up Viva’s remaining stock.
Viva shares had gained 20 percent since STC’s initial takeover announcement in November, ending Sunday at a record closing high of 1.1 dinars.
Egypt’s benchmark rose 0.2 percent to 6,408 points, but remains within 110 points of November’s 2015 low.
In a surprise move, Egypt’s central bank on Sunday injected more foreign currency liquidity into the banking system, helping restore confidence among some foreign stock traders who were net buyers on Cairo’s bourse. Local and Arab investors were net sellers, bourse data showed.
“We believe this foreign currency injection — our so called Operation Confidence — has a very short life span,” said a note by Cairo-based Pharos Holding.
“The buzz around renewed negotiations with Gulf countries and the IMF over sizeable financial assistance reinforces just how short-lived this move will be.”

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