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Gulf bourses diverge; Saudi real estate shares hit by land tax

Gulf bourses diverge; Saudi real estate shares hit by land tax

DUBAI: Shares in the Middle East were mixed on Monday as some stocks advanced on positive news while Saudi Arabia's real estate companies retreated after a land tax was announced.
Riyadh's index edged up 0.3 percent in modest volume. As part of the country's economic reform campaign, the Housing Ministry said on Sunday that it was imposing an annual tax on undeveloped urban land; the levy will be equivalent to 2.5 percent of the value of the land.
The announcement had been expected, and details of how the tax will be applied - crucial to assessing its impact - have not yet been revealed. But real estate-related companies with large land banks were hit by the news, with Taiba Holding and Jabal Omar Development dropping 2.3 and 1.6 percent respectively.
Banks fared better on hopes that demand for loans to finance real estate development projects could pick up as a result of the tax. Banque Saudi Fransi climbed 3.0 percent.
In Dubai, Air Arabia climbed 3.2 percent after the budget airline reported a 42.2 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 111.1 million dirhams ($30.3 million); analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast 88.8 million dirhams.
Shares in Drake & Scull, which has not yet reported quarterly results, surged 8.6 percent, recovering earlier losses.
But DAMAC Properties dropped 4.1 percent after it reported a 15 percent fall in first-quarter net profit, as revenue shrank by a third compared to a year earlier.
With two-thirds of traded shares declining, the main Dubai index fell 0.3 percent.
Neighbouring Abu Dhabi's stock index edged up 0.6 percent. Blue chips provided the main support, with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Etisalat adding 1.3 and 0.8 percent respectively.
Agthia Group rose 1.1 percent after reporting a 14 percent year-on-year rise in first-quarter net profit on a 12 percent increase in net revenue.
Doha's index broke a five-day losing streak and added 1.3 percent on the back of some buying interest in blue chips. Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan and telecommunications operator Ooredoo rose 1.8 and 4.4 percent.
In Cairo, Telecom Egypt failed to hold onto early gains and edged down 0.4 percent to 7.97 Egyptian pounds. The country's state-owned landline monopoly posted an almost 116 percent jump in first-quarter net profit, citing growth in its retail business.
"The bottom line was positively impacted by gross margin improvements, resulting from a change in the revenue mix, solid contribution from Vodafone Egypt (where it has a 45 percent stake) and a transactional foreign exchange gain," said a note by Cairo's Naeem Holding, maintaining a "buy" rating on the stock with a price target of 11.0 pounds.
The main Egyptian stock index rose 1.0 percent. Orascom Construction added 0.5 percent after it said it had won two contracts worth 270 million euros ($308 million) for work on the third phase of Cairo's third metro rail line.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 6,694 points.

* The index declined 0.3 percent to 3,316 points.
* The index gained 0.6 percent to 4,476 points.
* The index advanced 1.3 percent to 9,855 points.

* The index added 1.0 percent to 7,646 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 5,364 points.
* The index rose 0.4 percent to 6,020 points.

* The index dropped 0.5 percent to 1,106 points.

Source: Reuters

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