Gulf stocks lower in early Monday trade

Stock markets in the Gulf wobbled in early trade on Monday as investors cashed out of stocks in anticipation of earnings season.

Riyadh’s index edged down 0.2 per cent, as Saudi Basic Industries, the largest listed stock on the bourse, dropped 0.1 per cent ahead of its scheduled ex-dividend date on Tuesday.

Almarai, which jumped 3.6 per cent after reporting on Sunday a slight rise in first-quarter net profit in a challenging market, fell back 0.4 per cent.

A note by NCB Capital said that despite the decline in gross margins to a six-quarter low, favourable raw material pricing and a lower than expected impact of subsidy cuts- which were enforced by the government at the start of the year in an effort to plug the budget deficit did less-than-expected damage on gross margins, adding “this is a key positive from the first quarter results”.

Jarir Marketing, a giant retailer which sells electronics and stationeries, added 0.8 per cent. On Sunday it reported a net income drop of nearly 30 per cent which fell short of analyst expectations, although sales turnover were not as extreme as the company had previously guided.

Dubai’s index fluctuated in the first hour of trade as local traders initially booked profits in small and mid-cap stocks, which have been the backbone of the bourse’s gains over the past month.

Union Properties, a mid-sized developer, added 2.2 per cent, after initially falling as much as 1.0 per cent.

But other stocks, which rallied on Sunday, were sold off. Builder Drake & Scull dropped 1.0 per cent, after rising by the same per centage the previous day.

Emaar Properties fell 0.3 per cent, after the company said on Sunday that Abdulla Lahej had discontinued his role as group chief executive officer, adding the group chief operating officer will be handling the role, without elaborating further.

Abu Dhabi’s stock exchange was trading in negative territory in the first half hour of trade before regaining momentum and adding 0.3 per cent.

Aldar Properties rose 1.4 per cent after the developer said on Monday it will add new villas to its Yas Island development with a project valued at Dh6 billion.

But energy related stocks fell back as investors booked profits ahead of earnings season. Dana Gas, which jumped 11.1 per cent on Sunday, was down 1.7 per cent.

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