Saudi shares slip on profit-taking, other Gulf bourses mixed

Shares in Saudi Arabia fell in early trade on Sunday because of profit-taking despite more first-quarter earnings beats from major companies, while bourses elsewhere in the Gulf were mixed.

Saudi Arabia’s stock index, which rose 4.0 per cent last week, shed 0.9 per cent in the first 75 minutes of trade.

Saudi banks’ first quarter results continued to surprise to the upside, with the largest lender by market value, Al Rajhi Bank, posting a first-quarter net profit of 2.02 billion Saudi riyals, a 32.8 per cent jump, as it cut wage costs and fee income increased.

Six analysts surveyed by Reuters had on average forecast quarterly profit of 1.84bn riyals. Shares in the Islamic lender were up 0.4 per cent. But the banking sub-index, which rose over 4 per cent last week, was down 0.7 per cent as investors booked profits.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical jumped 5.8 per cent after the company made a net loss of 216.3 million riyals in the three months to March 31; the average estimate of three analysts polled by Reuters was for a quarterly loss of 373.8m riyals.

Analysts at NCB Capital, who had estimated Kayan would make net loss of 391m riyals, said in note on Sunday they believed the improvement was due to better-than-expected gross margins.

Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas jumped 7.1 per cent and was the most heavily traded share on that bourse, as investors were encouraged by hopes that oil prices may have bottomed as top producers meet in Doha to agree on a possible freeze in output. The Abu Dhabi index was flat.

In Qatar, the main index added 0.2 per cent, with vessels operator Qatar Gas Transport up 0.8 per cent.

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