MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets to consolidate; concern about Saudi
Saudi Arabia's stock market

DUBAI: Gulf stock markets look set to consolidate on Monday as investors remain concerned about the outlook for the Saudi Arabian market, where prices have been falling because of concern about next year’s state budget.

The Saudi index closed down 1.4 percent on Sunday, bringing its losses over four trading days to 6.7 percent, on worries that low oil prices would force Riyadh into spending cuts and tax increases.

Saudi Arabia’s weakness is dampening the entire region, even in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, which are relatively well placed to cope with an era of cheap oil. Modest trading volumes around the Gulf in recent weeks suggest many investors are staying away from the bourses.

Among individual stocks, Doha Bank has missed estimates with a 2 percent decline in third-quarter net profit to 341 million riyals ($93.7 million); analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 358 million riyals.

Egypt’s market, however, may get a boost from news that the board of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology has approved an offer to acquire, together with investment bank ACT Financial, 100 percent of shares of Beltone Financial.

The intention to make an offer had already been announced but the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority said it had received a compulsory share purchase offer, which it was studying, of 4 pounds per share, compared to Beltone’s last market price of 3.83 pounds.

Investors may bet on the possibility of the offer eventually being raised, leaving upside for Beltone shares.

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