April 19, 2017 / 5:42 AM / in 9 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai may continue to shine, cement sector could weigh on Saudi

DUBAI, April 19 (Reuters) - Dubai’s stock market may again outperform its regional peers on Wednesday after a strong gain on Tuesday, while first-quarter earnings reports from the Saudi construction materials sector may weigh on that market.

The Dubai index, last at 3,496 points, rebounded from near technical support on its March low of 3,435 points on the back of a jump in Emaar Properties.

“Emaar is what we call the barometer of the financial market - when there is positive announcement from that company the entire stock exchamge gets a boost,” said a Dubai-based stock trader.

Emirates NBD (ENBD), Dubai’s largest lender, posted on Wednesday a 4 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 1.87 billion dirhams ($509 million). The stock is usually thinly traded, however.

Arabtec, which has been active since the announcement of the appointment of a new group chief financial officer this week, may continue to attract interest after shareholders approved its 1.5 billion dirham new share issuance.

In Saudi Arabia, Arabian Cement made a net profit in the three months to March 31 of 100.1 million riyals ($26.7 million), down 55.4 percent from the prior-year period. The company attributed the fall to lower sales volumes and prices.

The company also said that in its adoption of IFRS accounting rules, there were no significant changes to financial results. Companies in Saudi Arabia are now obliged to report earnings in adherence to IFRS, and the securities regulator said last year that companies could report interim earnings as long as 30 days after the end of each period, rather than 15 days as previously.

Arab National Bank reported a net profit of 768 million riyals, up 2.5 percent from the prior-year period. Most Saudi banks have now reported earnings that were mostly flat or lower, with the exception of the two largest lenders, Al Rajhi and National Commercial Bank. Most have come in ahead of expectations. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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