Middle East stock markets were mixed in quiet trade on Sunday with Dubai falling as Emaar Properties was sold after a fire at one of its luxury hotels. The Saudi and Egyptian markets gained, supported by large-cap bank stocks.
Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Share Index gained 0.6 percent in modest volumes on Sunday.
The government’s 2016 austerity budget due to low oil prices has cast a shadow over the market, though there are hopes stock prices have now factored in macroeconomic headwinds, at least for now.
Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) jumped 2.7 percent after announcing it had started initial production of copper at its joint venture affiliate with Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. ABX.TO.
Petrochemicals remained soft, however, as investors are still wary of the sector after rises in the price of natural gas feedstock in last week’s budget.
Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), which makes up two-thirds of the sector’s total market value, fell 0.7 percent.
“Industrial companies are expected to experience a relatively higher impact (from subsidy reforms) while the retail, telecom and banking sectors will not be impacted directly,” said a note by Saudi’s NCB Capital.
Major Islamic retail bank Al-Rajhi led gains among lenders, rising 1.9 percent, and Riyad Bank added 1.6 percent after the fourth largest lender announced on Thursday it plans to pay a cash dividend of SR0.35 per share for the second half of 2015, the same payout as in the corresponding period of 2014.
Emaar shares slid in heavy, early trade after its Address Downtown hotel in Dubai was engulfed by a fire on New Year’s Eve.
The stock hit an intra-day low of AED5.44 but a rebound gained steam as buy orders were placed in the final 15 minutes of trade. It closed at AED5.60, down 1.6 percent, and Dubai’s index finished down 0.5 percent.
Dubai’s leading real estate developer said the blaze would have “no material impact” on it because the building and risk of fire were covered by its insurance.
Emaar will lose some business because of the closure of the hotel; a schedule has not been announced for its reopening.
But the loss will be a very small part of its total business.
“The operational impact of the fire incident on Emaar’s expected 2016 revenue and earnings per share estimates is not significant in our view,” said a note by Arqaam Capital.
Hotel group revenues in 2016 are expected to be hurt by 13 percent, while at the parent level, the effect will be far less significant at 1 percent, the note added.
“Any impact from lost room revenue because of damaged property, as well as tarnished reputation, should not be material for the parent company,” said Ayisha Zia, equity analyst at Muscat-based OAB Invest.
Abu Dhabi’s index slipped 0.8 percent as heavyweights Etisalat and First Gulf Bank fell 0.9 and 1.2 percent respectively.
In Qatar, Doha’s bourse retreated 1.1 percent as regional retail investors sold blue chips. Volumes were very low as many institutional investors were absent for year-end holidays.
Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank, the two largest stocks in their respective sectors, fell 3.4 and 0.6 percent respectively.
Qatar’s economy expanded 3.8 percent year-on-year, after adjusting for inflation, according to Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics.
In Egypt, Cairo’s main index advanced 1.2 percent, picking up momentum in the final 30 minutes of trade as blue-chip lender Commercial International Bank shares surged 7.4 percent.
CI Capital, which Orascom Telecom bid to acquire from CIB in December, has acquired CIB’s stake in affiliate Corplease for 133 million Egyptian pounds ($17 million), CIB said in a bourse statement.