MIDEAST STOCKS-Markets may consolidate with soft bias
An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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Stock markets in the Middle East may consolidate with a soft bias on Sunday after the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.1 percent on Friday and Moody’s Investors service cut its debt ratings or outlooks for countries in the region.

Moody’s lowered its ratings for Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain while assigning negative outlooks to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain. Its rating of Saudi Arabia is still two notches above Standard & Poor’s, but the action did underline continued pressure from low oil prices; negative outlooks were assigned to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

Egypt’s credit outlook was cut to negative from stable, a sign that hoped-for improvements in the economy following massive foreign aid and efforts at reform are still proving difficult to achieve.

Dubai builder Arabtec reported its first-quarter net loss narrowed to 46.4 million dirhams ($12.63 million) from a loss of 279.8 million dirhams a year earlier. This may be seen as positive by some investors; analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast a loss of 123.6 million dirhams.

But Kuwait Food Co (Americana) posted a 12.3 percent fall in first-quarter net profit, citing higher costs and losses from foreign exchange for the decline.

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