Wednesday , May 23 2018

Saudi, Egyptian banks bask in global glow

DUBAI / Reuters

The banking sector helped support stock indexes in Saudi
Arabia and Egypt on Monday as investors were influenced by the positive mood in global bourses, while other markets in
the region moved little. “With quarterly earnings now largely behind us, investors are looking for fresh triggers, and the
optimism buzzing around global markets is just that,” said a Riyadh-based broker.
Sixty banks in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council have now reported second-quarter earnings and according to analysts at Oman’s U-Capital, the sector’s total net profit for the
period was $7.85 billion, up 4.7 percent from a year ago.
Banks in the United Arab Emirates recorded the biggest rise of 18.4 percent, while Saudi Arabian banks saw their aggregate net profit slip 2.2 percent to $2.68 billion.
The last of the 12 Saudi lenders to report earnings, Samba
Financial Group, announced late on Sunday a net profit of 1.27 billion riyals ($339 million), broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts and down 3.3 percent year-on-year.
Most other Saudi banks rose on Monday with Alawwal Bank adding 1.9 percent, and the overall stock market index gaining 0.3 percent. Electronics and bookstore retailer Jarir edged up 0.5 percent after its board recommended a dividend of
1.45 riyals for the second quarter, up slightly from last year.
Egypt’s index gained 0.8 percent, outpacing the rest of the region by a substantial margin for a second straight session. The largest listed lender, Commercial International Bank, added 1.1 percent. But GB Auto lost 1.0 percent after a report by the
industry’s regulatory body showed auto sales in the second quarter plunged 44.5 percent year-on-year.
Analysts at Cairo’s Naeem Brokerage expect GB Auto to suffer slight weakness in sales volume this quarter but anticipate a pick-up in demand starting in the fourth quarter as consumers adjust to new price levels, and because interest rates are expected to be cut. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai-listed Air Arabia fell 1.8 percent ahead of the release of its quarterly earnings. Emaar Malls Group added 0.4 percent after its second-quarter net profit rose 5 percent. Shares of its largest shareholder, Emaar Properties, declined 0.8 percent, helping drag the Dubai index 0.2 percent lower. Abu Dhabi’s index added 0.1 percent as Dana Gas rose 1.6 percent.

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