Gulf consolidates; Saudi banks rise

Dubai / Reuters

Gulf stock markets consolidated in quiet trade early on Wednesday but Saudi banks rose after a major lender posted earnings in line with estimates.
The Saudi stock index gained 0.4 percent in the first 75 minutes of trade as the banking sector index rose 0.7 percent. Banque Saudi Fransi, the second major Saudi lender to report third-quarter earnings, gained 2.8 percent after it posted a net profit of 1.01 billion riyals ($269 million), a 1.0 percent dip from the same period last year. That was in line with analysts’ average expectation of 1.04 billion riyals. The bank cited higher expenses and impairment charges.
Riyad Bank dropped earlier this week when it posted an 18.9 percent fall in third-quarter profit, missing analysts’ forecasts, so Saudi Fransi’s results reassured the sector. Riyad shares were up 0.5 percent on Wednesday morning.
Telecommunications firm Zain Saudi climbed 4.2 percent after it signed letter of intent with a unit of utility Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) to use SEC’s fibre optic network, conduct mutual marketing of products and services, and obtain new locations for telecommunications towers.
Last week government said it would provide telecommunications operators with “unified licences” allowing them to offer a full range of services; analysts said this could help Zain Saudi compete against market leader Saudi Telecom , which was down 0.5 percent on Wednesday morning.
Dubai’s index edged down 0.3 percent after global markets pulled back but construction firm Drake & Scull , the most heavily traded stock, was up for a third straight day after it replaced its chief executive. The stock gained 1.2 percent.
Abu Dhabi’s index dropped 0.3 percent as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank fell 1.1 percent, but Abu Dhabi National Energy Co added 5.2 percent.
Qatar slipped 0.4 percent as Qatar National Cement lost 1.3 percent after reporting that profit for the first nine months of this year had edged down 1 percent.

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