MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Egypt mixed in modest volumes
Mid-East stocks - Reuters

DUBAI: Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Egypt were narrowly mixed in early trade on Wednesday as modest trading volumes suggested some investors were withdrawing from the market after a surge of activity in the last few weeks.

The Saudi bourse jumped earlier this month in response to the rebound of oil prices near $40 a barrel, while Egypt was boosted by a currency devaluation which could help to resolve the country’s longstanding foreign exchange shortage.

But shrinking trading turnover in the last few days suggests the impact of those events is fading and some investors are returning to the sidelines in the absence of other catalysts.

The Saudi index edged down 0.1 percent to 6,177 points in the first 45 minutes. If it confirms a break below its mid-March low of 6,202 points, that would indicate the uptrend since mid-February has ended.

Saudi Basic Industries rose 1.0 percent as gainers and losers were almost equal in number. Hospital operator Middle East Healthcare, which jumped its 10 percent daily limit as it listed on Tuesday, was up 6.4 percent at 74.75 riyals.

Many Saudi stocks rise by their daily limits for several days after listing, so Middle East Healthcare’s relatively modest gain suggests its post-listing honeymoon period may already be ending.

Egypt’s index edged down 0.4 percent as real estate firm Talaat Mostafa dropped 1.1 percent after declaring cash dividends worth a combined 0.145 Egyptian pound per shares.

Global Telecom gained 1 percent to 3.10 Egyptian pounds. Naeem brokerage said the company was expected at a general meeting on Thursday to discuss amending some articles of association to refinance a shareholder loan at a lower rate. It kept a “buy” rating on the stock with a 4.00 pound target.

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