From Said Azhar

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia closed at a six-month low on Sunday as financial stocks continued to sell and Dubai shares fell more than 1 percent on the back of Emaar's losses as risk appetite extended to most Gulf markets.

Egypt's index fell 3.6 percent to 14,755 points, its lowest level since Feb. 13. The index, which hit a record high of 18414 in April, has lost more than 1 percent since the start of the year.

Saudi Arabia's index closed down 1.6 percent at 7,470 points, its lowest level since March 7 as emerging market turmoil continued to weigh on markets in the region.

The index lost more than 9 percent of its value this quarter. Banks were the hardest hit, with Samba Financial Group down 3.3 percent and National Commercial Bank down about 3 percent.

"There seems to be selling pressure from local institutions in Saudi Arabia," said Nishat Lakhotia, research director at Bahrain's SICO Bank.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) fell 1.4 percent and is under pressure after press reports that Aramco may buy a controlling stake in the petrochemical company at a reduced price.

Last week, Aramco said recent press reports about a possible deal between Aramco and SABIC were "purely speculative."

"In the near term, there are no catalysts in trading as the third quarter earnings are likely to be weak, but we expect the Saudi bourse to be more resilient in the fourth quarter as investors selectively pick up positions before MSCI and FTSE enter," Lakhotia said.

Saudi Real Estate Co gained 4 percent after its wadis awarded a 1.1 billion riyals ($ 293 million) contract to a major infrastructure construction company at an important location in Riyadh.

The Dubai index fell 0.8 percent as Emaar Properties fell 3.2 percent and Emirates NBD fell 2.3 percent.

Drake & Scull closed 0.5 percent lower, but erased part of its early losses, hitting a record low of 0.376 dirhams ($ 0.1024). The stock closed at 0.4 dirhams.

The partial rise was supported by the main shareholder of Tabarak Investment Company, which owns 13.73%.

Tabark said at the weekend it was committed to recovering Drake & Scull's financial integrity and that the company, as a major shareholder, had arranged for Drake & Scull to get projects worth more than 1 billion dirhams ($ 272 million).

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.6 percent, boosted by Abu Dhabi's first heavyweight bank, which rose 0.8 percent and United Arab Bank, up 4.2 percent.

In Qatar, the index fell 0.8 percent, retreating from a 16-month high recorded in the previous session as leading stocks fell. Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank lost 0.8 percent.

The following are the closing levels of indices of Arab stock markets on Sunday:

Saudi Arabia .. The index fell 1.6 percent to 7470 points.

Qatar .. The index fell 0.8 percent to 9942 points.

Egypt – The index fell 3.6 percent to 14,755 points.

Kuwait .. The index of the first market at 5347 points.

Bahrain .. The index lost 0.3 percent to 1,341 points.

Oman: The index rose 0.1 percent to 4,453 points.




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