MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi hit by earnings disappointments, Egypt stabilises
Saudi Arabia's stock market

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s stock market was hit early on Monday by disappointing third-quarter earnings at several companies, while Egypt stabilised after falling for two days because of worries about currency depreciation.

The main Saudi index lost 0.4 percent as industrial materials maker National Industrialization Co (Tasnee) tumbled 8.4 percent after reporting a surprise quarterly loss, which it blamed on “lower average sales prices and lower sales volumes”.

Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) slid 5.3 percent after posting an 83.5 percent plunge in third-quarter net profit to 79.9 million riyals ($21.3 million); analysts had forecast 209-265 million riyals.

Construction firm Abdullah Abdul Mohsin al-Khodari and Sons sank 8.2 percent after swinging to a loss.

It said its new contract awards in the third quarter slumped to 31 million riyals compared to 554.6 million riyals of new work in the corresponding period of 2014 – possibly a sign of government spending and construction activity in Saudi Arabia starting to slow because of low oil prices.

However, the picture was not all negative. Buying-back of petrochemical shares, which have been depressed by low oil prices, continued with Saudi Basic Industries rising 0.6 percent.

Egypt’s index edged up 0.3 percent after dropping on the two previous days after the central bank allowed the pound to weaken slightly, which investors think is a signal that another round of managed depreciation may be starting.

The pound’s official rate has dropped to 7.9301 per dollar from 7.7301 on Thursday and some analysts think it could reach around 8.50 in coming months, as the central bank tries to correct the country’s endemic foreign exchange shortage.

Nine of the 10 most heavily traded stocks on Monday were higher, however, suggesting investors have long expected a fresh slide of the pound and are not panicking.

Egyptian Resorts, which could benefit if a weaker currency boosts the tourism industry, climbed 5.1 percent in unusually heavy trade.

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