Middle East stock markets witness thin trade

 26 Mar 2017 - 22:07


Dubai: Middle East stock markets were mixed in mostly thin trade yesterday, with Saudi Arabia giving up early gains triggered by progress in reforms that could help it to join MSCI’s emerging market index.
The Saudi index rose as much as 0.5 percent in early trade but closed 0.1 percent down in its thinnest volume since last September.
The exchange said late on Thursday that it would extend the period for settling trades and introduce short-selling on April 23 in reforms demanded by MSCI. The reforms had been expected in the second quarter, but the date is positive because it gives MSCI time to evaluate their impact before deciding in June whether to put Riyadh on its review list.
However, the market began running out of steam yesterday after a joint committee of ministers from Opec and non-Opec oil producers announced their agreement to review whether a global pact to limit supplies should be extended by six months.
The prospect of an extension suggests that producers are not confident they can succeed in rebalancing the oil market.
Much activity focused on smaller stocks, such as Filing and Packing Materials Manufacturing Co, which jumped 3.5 percent in its heaviest trade since August 2014. Arab Bank dropped 3.3 percent as it went ex-dividend.
In Dubai, the index edged up 0.2 percent, with Union Properties climbing by 3.1 percent after its board recommended an 8 percent stock dividend for 2016.
Emaar Malls dropped 0.8 percent after local business magazine Arabian Business quoted sources as saying it was bidding up to $800m to acquire Souq.com.
This would place Emaar in a bidding war with Amazon.com , which has agreed in principle to buy the online retailer. Emaar Malls did not respond to requests for comment.
Abu Dhabi’s index lost 0.7 percent, pulled down by weakness in big banks. Among them was First Gulf Bank with a 1.2 percent decline.
Qatar’s index fell by 0.3 percent as petrochemicals blue-chip company Industries Qatar sagged by 2.2 percent.