Muscat led five of the seven regional markets lower, while blue chips dragged down Egyptian shares as investors kept a close eye on developments in global markets.
The Saudi bourse dropped 0.9 per cent to 9,834 points as the market heavyweights suffered losses. “There won’t be a big movement until March-end as first-quarter results start coming out. Investors are now looking to global markets for a cue, but Saudi shares are stable,” said Abdulaziz Al Mediheem, head of portfolios at Riyad Bank.
Samba Financial Group plunged 4.2 per cent to SR92, while Saudi Basic Industries, or Sabic, fell 0.4 per cent to SR176.50. “Banks are expected to post poor results for the first-quarter, after performing poorly last year,” a trader at a large Riyadh-based investment firm said. Al Sagr and Tadco both escaped the gloom to post gains of 1.87 and 1.1 per cent respectively.
“Record-high oil prices will be absorbed by the traders later as they are mostly retail investors,” said Khaled Al Braikan, a trader at Samba Capital Asset Management. “Industrial shares will start to perform well in a month or two as first-quarter results show the gains of high oil prices,” Braikan added.
Muscat shares ended down 1.5 per cent at 10,542, undermined by industry shares.
In Qatar, Doha shares slipped 0.4 per cent to 10,397 points. Qatar Telecom fell 2.1 per cent to QR252. “Qatar and other Gulf markets no longer look cheap compared to US markets. We’re seeing consolidation now as global institutional investors decide whether or not to keep their money in emerging markets or reposition themselves,” said a trader at a Qatari bank.
Meanwhile, Kuwait bucked the negative trend, edging up 0.4 per cent to 14,220 points. Mena Holding was the top performer, surging 8.77 per cent.
Bahrain also ended in the black, adding 0.8 per cent to 2,889 points, boosted by banking shares.
In Egypt, the Case 30 index closed down 0.9 per cent to 11,289 points. “Blue chips are suffering from a bit of profit taking but we are seeing some new foreign money through funds and smaller companies are likely to see new highs next week,” said Mohamed Ashmawy, a trader from Commercial International Brokerage.
EFG-Hermes fell two per cent to EGP59.23. (Agencies)
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