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Saudi stocks edge higher

An investor walks at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this January 18, 2016 photo. (REUTERS)
DUBAI: The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) added 0.2 percent on Monday with buying momentum building in the final hour. Petrochemical shares were the main support with almost two-thirds of the 14 producers gaining.
Loss-making Nama Chemicals surged 9.5 percent after slumping 6.7 percent on Sunday. Shares in the polymer maker have been volatile since it announced a recovery plan late last month.
Insurance stocks, often traded by retail investors, were robust; Buruj Cooperative Insurance jumped 8.6 percent.
The sector was one of the best-performing with net income more than doubling in 2016, according to Al-Rajhi Capital. Analysts attributed the growth to greater efficiencies and higher pricing.
Meanwhile, most stock markets in the Gulf moved little but the United Arab Emirates (UAE) bourses outperformed with mid-to-large sized companies boosting Dubai, while Egypt’s index slipped in thin volume.
Dubai’s main index added 1.2 percent as Emaar Properties gained 2.7 percent after saying it would recover AED1.22 billion ($332 million) from an insurance claim for a fire that engulfed one of its hotels in late 2015.
The Dubai-listed shares of GFH Financial Group fell as much as 6.5 percent during the day but ended 0.4 percent higher. The Bahrain-based financial firm announced plans for a big increase in share capital to fund a new growth strategy of acquiring financial institutions and infrastructure investments.
Large caps helped carry Abu Dhabi’s index 0.7 percent higher. Dana Gas, which has not yet reported quarterly earnings, rose 1.9 percent.
Kuwait’s index rebounded 0.2 percent after sinking 2.3 percent in the previous session as investors worried over rising political tensions between the Cabinet and Parliament, which may delay the country’s economic plans.
The Kuwaiti index soared 19 percent last month but has lost steam in the past week and fund managers are split over whether the bull run has ended.
“We are skeptical that Kuwait offers a durable, positive investment case for frontier investors,” investment bank Exotix said in a report.
But it added that the stocks were back to their mean valuations for the past five years from the point of view of price/book ratios, and said stocks such as National Bank of Kuwait and Agility combined relatively low valuations with dividend yields above 3 percent.
Egypt’s index fell 0.3 percent with two-thirds of the blue-chip constituents declining.
GB Auto lost 3.5 percent after the automotive industry council published a report showing car sales in Egypt fell to their lowest in five years and car brands sold by GB Auto declined 55 percent month-on-month in November 2016, the month when the Egyptian pound was floated and lost nearly half its value.
al car unit sales,” they wrote.

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