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Gulf up on Saudi reassurance, M&A talk; Egypt slides

Gulf up on Saudi reassurance, M&A talk; Egypt slidesDUBAI: Most Gulf bourses edged up on Monday on mostly positive domestic news, shrugging off weaker oil prices, while Egypt fell after a string of announcements that dampened investor sentiment.

The main Saudi stock index rose 0.7 percent and food maker Savola Group was one of the main supports, surging 4.0 percent.

Savola has joined with Singapore’s Temasek Holdings to bid for Kuwait Food Co (Americana), Bloomberg reported on Sunday, quoting unnamed sources.

A series of potential suitors has been discussing the purchase of Americana, majority-owned by Kuwait’s Kharafi family, since early 2014, with no result so far. A Savola spokesman was not available for comment; Temasek declined to comment. Shares in Americana surged 4.7 percent.

Other Saudi sectors were also positive, continuing an advance which began on Sunday after the finance ministry said the government would continue borrowing if necessary to fund important development projects.

Citing China’s economic slowdown, Saudi Arabia’s Albilad Capital on Sunday cut valuations for companies in the Saudi petrochemical sector.

It said the price of ammonia in the Middle East had dropped 28.8 percent year-to-date, while mono ethylene glycol had dropped 21.3 percent, according to quotes from southeast Asia.

Albilad reduced its valuation of Saudi Basic Industries by 7.5 percent to 98.00 riyals, Yansab by 4.6 percent to 55.40 riyals, Saudi Arabia Fertilisers Co by 3.4 percent to 125.60 riyals, and Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) by 4.0 percent to 38.00 riyals.

But these valuations are still significantly higher than the current market prices of all four stocks, after the kingdom’s market witnessed a broad, panicked sell-off last month when oil hit its lowest levels since 2009.

UAE, EGYPT

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Dubai investors bid up property stocks, hoping that companies would announce positive news at an annual industry exhibition.

The emirate’s index rose 0.5 percent with developer DAMAC, the most traded stock, jumping 2.0 percent and the runner-up, builder Arabtec, surging 3.8 percent.

The Cityscape property exhibition and conference opened in Dubai on Monday; companies in the sector have traditionally used it to announce new projects and contract awards.

Abu Dhabi slipped 0.5 percent, although local developer Aldar Properties rose 1.3 percent.

Qatar’s bourse added 0.4 percent, largely because of Qatar National Bank which rose 1.3 percent.

Egypt’s main index edged up in early trade but then turned negative in a broad sell-off after a series of negative news announcements.

The country’s central bank said on Monday that its foreign currency reserves had fallen to $ 18.1 billion from $ 18.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the investment minister said the government had signed an agreement with a Chinese company on building and financing part of a planned new administrative capital east of Cairo. Investors had hoped local developers would get contracts, but no such deals have been announced yet.

Finally, Talaat Moustafa Group tumbled 6.0 percent after a court in Egypt refused to release Hisham Talaat Moustafa, its former chief executive and member of the family which controls the conglomerate, from prison on health grounds. He had been sentenced to 15 years in prison on murder charges.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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