World Economy

Mideast Markets Soft After Oil Slips Again

Mideast Markets Soft After Oil Slips AgainMideast Markets Soft After Oil Slips Again

Most Persian Gulf stock markets fell on Sunday after Brent crude oil closed down nearly a dollar a barrel at $56.42 on Friday and many investors remained absent from the markets for extended holiday breaks.

Although markets have become less prone to panic sell-offs since Saudi Arabia announced late last month a 2015 state budget which maintains spending at a high level, many buyers may choose to stay on the sidelines until oil prices find a floor, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia’s main equities index edged down 0.6 percent with most sectors in the red. The kingdom’s market is heavily weighted towards petrochemical producers, whose profits may be hurt if oil’s weakness is prolonged.

However, shares in Advanced Petrochemical Co bucked the trend and rose 1.2 percent after the firm said its 2014 net profit rose 34.9 percent on higher sales volumes and prices as well as cheaper feedstock.

The company was the first one in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf to report full-year results. More positive results could buoy regional markets in coming weeks.

“Despite falling oil prices, the outlook for Tadawul (Saudi Arabia’s bourse) is still positive as corporate earnings remain healthy,” National Commercial Bank said in a note on Friday, adding that December sell-offs had made valuations attractive.


Dubai’s index dropped 2.3 percent. Heavyweight developer Emaar Properties fell 1.8 percent, while builder Arabtec Holding, the most traded stock, tumbled 3.8 percent.

Trading volume more than halved from the previous session, indicating that many investors were either absent or unwilling to open new positions.

Abu Dhabi’s bourse fell 1.7 percent as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Aldar Properties tumbled 5.4 and 6.4 percent respectively.

Energy firm Dana Gas initially outperformed after the company said it had received $60 million from Egypt’s government as part of overdue receivables totaling $212 million. But the stock ultimately closed 2.0 percent lower.

Qatar’s benchmark edged down 0.5 percent while Kuwait’s edged up 0.2 percent. Trading volumes in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Kuwait also fell sharply. Bourses in Oman and Bahrain were closed.

Outside the Persian Gulf, Egypt’s index added 0.2 percent on the back of Commercial International Bank, which rose 1.7 percent. The stock has gained 5.3 percent since Dec. 23, when Fitch upgraded the bank’s credit rating to “B” from “B-” following an Egyptian sovereign rating upgrade.