DUBAI: Gulf markets were mixed Sunday as investors were cautious ahead of third-quarter earnings reports and Eid holidays that could coincide with major developments in the U.S. government’s crisis over its funding and debt ceiling.
Saudi Arabia’s bourse sank as much as 1.7 percent on what traders said was preholiday profit-taking, before closing down just 0.2 percent.
Gulf markets will be wholly or partially closed next week for Eid al-Adha, with Saudi Arabia shut for the entire week. While most investors are not gravely worried by the U.S. political turmoil, expecting it to be resolved before major damage is done to the U.S. economy or markets, the holidays will leave them exposed during a critical period.
Shares in Saudi dairy producer Almarai slipped 0.5 percent after its third-quarter net profit fell marginally short of analysts’ estimates.
Saudi retailer Jarir Marketing, on the other hand, climbed 0.8 percent after reporting results that were slightly better than estimates.
In Dubai, the main index fell 0.3 percent to 2,815 points after 14-day momentum posted a negative divergence – a classic technical sign of a pause in an uptrend. The index has immediate chart support around 2,750 points, where it peaked in August.
The government’s plans to boost the Islamic finance sector, announced Saturday, had a mixed effect on stocks in the sector. Dubai said it would focus on developing its Islamic reinsurance sector, which it believes has lagged the growth of Islamic insurance.
Dubai Islamic Bank gained 0.8 percent and Dubai Islamic Insurance and Reinsurance Co. was up 1.0 percent. But Dar Al-Takaful fell 1.2 percent and Takaful Emarat was down 2.8 percent.
Shares in Gulf Finance House jumped after it announced the departure of chairman Essam Janahi and named Ahmad al-Mutawa as his replacement. The Bahrain-listed shares rose 7.7 percent, the Kuwait listing was up 6.5 percent and in Dubai, the stock surged 10.6 percent.
Egypt’s main index rose 0.6 percent on the view that the country’s transition to democracy is progressing, despite the difficulties. Foreign investors were net buyers of stocks by a considerable margin, according to bourse data.
“Due to the improvement of the political situation in Egypt we see more investor interest in the Egyptian equity market,” said Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor in Abu Dhabi.