Dubai : Gulf stock markets were sluggish yesterday, with a dividend cut pulling down major Abu Dhabi-listed financial firm Waha Capital, but Egypt’s bourse rose on the back of a gain by its biggest bank.
Equities in the Gulf rallied along with oil late last year and Saudi Arabia saw its largest-ever inflow of equity funds last month. But Brent oil’s retreat from above $70 a barrel since late January has visibly reduced liquidity in many bourses.
In a report at the end of last week, JP Morgan Cazenove said that with oil at $70, it had been on the point of upgrading its assessment of regional markets to “overweight”, but had decided not to after oil fell back.
“$63 ain’t $70,” JP Morgan said, adding: “Lower oil increases near-term doubts.”
The Abu Dhabi index edged down 0.1 per cent as Waha , which had been trading near 10-month highs, pulled back 4.1pc. It proposed a 2017 cash dividend of 15pc, down from 20pc for 2016.
Dubai edged up 0.2pc as DAMAC Properties gained 1.8pc. But courier Aramex, which had surged in the last few days on strong fourth-quarter earnings, pulled back 1.3pc.
Saudi Arabia’s index added 0.3pc as telecommunications firm Mobily, dragged down in the last several days by weak fourth-quarter earnings, rebounded 4.9pc.
Saudi Industrial Export, which deals in bulk commodities and chemicals, jumped its 10pc daily limit for a fourth day in row, to 222.60 riyals.
The stock has been massively volatile in recent years, plunging from a peak of above 1,000 riyals hit in 2013, but the company could play a role in an export boom which the government hopes to engineer as part of economic reforms.
Qatar’s index rose 0.3pc. In Egypt, the index climbed 0.8pc as Commercial International Bank added 1.1pc. Al Ezz Dekheila Steel, which has doubled in price since November, partly because of improving prospects for the Egyptian economy, surged a further 10pc.