Tadawul index falls 0.7%

Updated 21 April 2017
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Tadawul index falls 0.7%

JEDDAH: Profit-taking and weak first-quarter earnings weighed on Gulf stock markets on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Share Index pulled lower by petrochemical shares after oil prices fell sharply, but Dubai’s Union Properties and Abu Dhabi’s TAQA bucked the trend.
The Saudi index lost 0.7 percent as almost two-thirds of listed petrochemical shares fell, with Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) dropping 1.3 percent.
Most Saudi banking shares also fell, with Saudi Investment Bank the worst performer, down 1.6 percent. All Saudi banks have now reported first-quarter earnings; while results were mixed, most beat analysts’ expectations.
The Saudi index was the worst performer in the Gulf for the week, down 2.5 percent.
Dubai’s index lost 1 percent as financially troubled builder Arabtec, which had jumped almost 11 percent on Wednesday after shareholders approved its capital restructuring plan, retreated 4.4 percent.
Union Properties, however, leapt 5.8 percent to close at 1.03 dirhams in its heaviest trade since Jan. 23 and accounted for almost half of trading volume on the exchange. It ended off its intra-day high of 1.12 dirhams, failing to conclusively break chart resistance at the end-February peak of 1.07.
Fund managers and traders said the reason for the jump was not clear but it could be related to positive corporate news that had not yet been disclosed.
“Shares of UPP moved against the grain, and if it was just market participants taking a contrarian view on the stock, it would happen gradually. The volume spike in today’s session suggests it’s a company-specific event,” one fund manager said.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. surged 7.1 percent in very heavy trade after its chief operating officer told Reuters it might sell some oil and gas interests in North America to raise capital for core businesses.
Profit-taking in other shares, however, pulled the Abu Dhabi index down 0.2 percent. First Abu Dhabi Bank fell 0.5 percent after trading as much as 1.4 percent higher earlier in the day.
The lender, which was formed on April 1 by the merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, announced a 12.4 percent rise in combined “pro-forma” first quarter net profit to 2.93 billion dirhams ($798 million).
That was aided by a 145.5 percent jump in “other non-interest” income while loan impairment charges slipped 3.9 percent.
In Doha, Gulf International Services dropped 5.0 percent after it reported an 81 percent slide in first-quarter profit to 15 million riyals ($4.1 million), far below QNB Financial’s forecast of SR452 million and Alphamena’s estimate of 378 million riyals.
The Qatari stock index fell 0.5 percent and was down 2.0 percent for the week.
In Egypt, the index edged up 0.1 percent in very low volume as Orascom Construction jumped 5.1 percent on news a major US nitrogen fertilizer plant which it built had started operations.
Declining shares, however, outnumbered advancing ones by 124 to 46.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 44 min 20 sec ago
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.