Building shares move higher ahead of Saudi budget

A view shows the construction of the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh. Saudi construction and cement stocks have gained in anticipation of higher infrastructure spending from the budget. (Reuters)
Updated 18 December 2017
0

Building shares move higher ahead of Saudi budget

DUBAI: Middle Eastern stock markets edged up in quiet trade on Sunday, with construction and building materials stocks boosting Saudi Arabia ahead of the release of its 2018 state budget this week.
Saudi Arabia’s index added 0.3 percent as builder Khodari surged 7.6 percent in its heaviest trade since January. Najran Cement gained 4.5 percent and in addition to Khodari, the 10 best-performing stocks featured six cement producers.
The state budget, to be announced on Tuesday, is expected to be modestly expansionary and include a rise in infrastructure spending after two years of austerity.
Real estate firm Dar Al-Arkan, the most heavily traded stock, fell back 3.6 percent after soaring in the last several weeks.
The Dubai index edged up 0.3 percent as construction firm Drake & Scull, which operates in Saudi Arabia, was the most heavily traded stock, rising 1.4 percent.
The Kuwait stock index added 0.4 percent after surging 1.5 percent on Thursday. Kuwait Finance House climbed 0.7 percent.
Other Gulf Arab central banks, whose currencies are pegged to the US dollar, raised interest rates in the wake of the US Federal Reserve’s hike last Wednesday.
But Kuwait, citing a desire to boost economic growth, did not tighten monetary policy; it manages its dinar against a dollar-dominated basket, which gives it more flexibility in policy.
In Egypt, the index climbed 0.3 percent as Egypt Gas, which handles natural gas engineering and maintenance work, soared 10 percent.
The company is expected to benefit from work related to Egypt’s giant Zohr gas field, where pilot production of gas started this month.
At the end of last week Egypt Gas forecast 2018 revenues of 2.61 billion Egyptian pounds ($146 million) and net profit of 24.6 million pounds, compared to revenue of 1.10 billion pounds and a net loss of 57 million pounds in the first nine months of this year.
Markets in Qatar and Bahrain were closed for national holidays.
— Reuters


Oil prices inch up as US crude stocks drop, Iran sanctions weigh

Updated 23 sec ago
0

Oil prices inch up as US crude stocks drop, Iran sanctions weigh

  • US crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to August 17 to 405.6 million barrels
  • ‘The Iran issue continues to occupy traders’ minds’

SEOUL: Oil markets rose on Wednesday on a drop in US crude inventories and a weaker dollar, while concerns about a potential shortfall in Iranian supply from November due to US sanctions also buoyed prices.
Brent crude oil futures were at $72.90 per barrel at 0653 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.37 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 27 cents, or 0.41 percent, at $66.11 per barrel.
US crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to Aug. 17 to 405.6 million barrels, ahead of analyst forecasts for a fall of 1.5 million barrels, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute.
Official data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.
“Investors are also confident that (official) inventories in the United States will decrease this week,” ANZ Bank said in a note.
Signs of slowing US crude output growth and a weaker US dollar also provided some support to oil prices, said Kim Kwang-rae, commodity analyst at Samsung Futures in Seoul.
The US dollar index against a basket of six major currencies eased on Wednesday to 95.211 after losing 0.7 percent the previous day, weighed down by US President Trump’s comments on monetary policy.
A weaker US dollar makes oil, which is priced in dollars, less expensive for buyers in other currencies.
The EIA cut its 2018 US crude production growth forecast on Aug. 7 to 10.68 million barrels per day (bpd) from 10.79 million bpd amid lower crude prices.
Concerns also remain over how much oil will be removed from global markets by renewed sanctions on Iran, despite worries that demand-growth could weaken amid a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.
“The Iran issue continues to occupy traders’ minds,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC’s third-largest oil producer, said earlier this week no other OPEC member should be allowed to take over its share of oil exports.
Meanwhile, a Chinese trade delegation is in Washington to discuss the trade dispute with the US side. But signs of a thaw were unlikely as US President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Monday that he did not expect much progress.