Reuters – Saudi Arabia’s stock market rebounded from near technical support on Wednesday, helped by positive dividend news from Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), while Egypt’s decline slowed after three days of steep falls due to currency and interest rate fears.
The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index climbed 2.0 percent to 7,128 points, bouncing from near chart support on its August low of 6,921 points. It was the biggest rise since early September.
Saudi Telecom surged its 10 percent daily limit in its highest turnover since February. The company said it planned to pay a minimum quarterly dividend of SR1 per share for three years from the fourth quarter of 2015.
Mobily, another telecommunications firm, rose 3.8 percent in sympathy and Atheeb Telecom surged 4.0 percent.
Turki Fadaak, head of research at Al Bilad Investment in Riyadh, said banks also led the market up because they had fallen to more attractive levels after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Saudi sovereign debt at the end of last month, causing some analysts to cut their outlooks for a number of banks. Al-Rajhi Bank gained 3.0 percent.
The Egyptian index ended only 0.3 percent lower, after tumbling 9.5 percent over the past three days because of fears of a currency devaluation or an interest rate hike.
A US interest rate rise in December began to look likely at the end of last week and the Russian airliner crash in the Sinai that killed all 224 people aboard is threatening Egypt’s tourism revenues.
Those fears have not gone away. Adding to the uncertainty, central bank chief Hisham Ramez was quoted by a local newspaper on Wednesday as saying he had appointed Gamal Negm as caretaker governor, until veteran banker Tarek Amer takes the helm at the bank on a permanent basis from Nov. 27.
Surprising traders, the central bank strengthened its currency by 0.20 Egyptian pounds to 7.7301 against the dollar at an auction on Wednesday. This could be a signal it wants no depreciation in the near term — but foreign reserves are so low that most economists still think depreciation is inevitable at some stage.
But there was some cautious buying-back in a few stocks on Wednesday. Global Telecom gained 2.4 percent.
Dubai’s index closed 0.5 percent higher after an early drop caused by poor earnings from builder Arabtec.
Arabtec dropped 5.1 percent after swinging to a net loss of 944.8 million dirhams ($257.3 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, much worse than SICO Bahrain’s forecast of a 21.2 million dirham loss, from a year-earlier profit of 68.7 million dirhams.
Another builder, Drake & Scull, fell 1.0 percent in sympathy. But Amlak Finance jumped 9.3 percent.
Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.3 percent as Etisalat climbed 2.3 percent on the eve of a semiannual review by index compiler MSCI.
Some investors have betted that MSCI could add Etisalat to its emerging markets index after the company opened its shares to foreign investment, though some fund managers think this is unlikely as foreigners will still be denied voting rights.
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. ended flat after swinging to a net loss in the third quarter of 416 million dirhams from a net profit of 107 million dirhams in the prior-year period.
Qatar’s index fell 0.9 percent; it has been falling since Monday, when the planning minister said the government needed to urgently consider tax and subsidy reforms in light of low oil prices — a fresh sign of looming austerity policies.

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