MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi slumps over 3 pct, other bourses mixed

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, May 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock index sank 3.1 percent on Monday as investors sold shares indiscriminately, while the United Arab Emirates and Qatar held onto small gains. Egypt fell as foreign funds exited the market.

Saudi shares were dumped across the board in the largest single-day decline since the government announced sweeping economic reforms in late April.

"Investors are cashing out and keeping cash available on hand before the extended low-volume season of Ramadan and summer vacations," said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at Abu Dhabi's The National Investor.

Henin said there was now "no positive news" supporting Gulf equity markets since oil prices had stopped climbing in recent days and equity valuations in the Gulf had adjusted higher, in line with other emerging stock markets, during a strong rebound from their January lows.

Saudi Basic Industries, the biggest petrochemical producer, dropped 3.0 percent. Retail industry shares, which have been advancing since late last week, also succumbed to the sell-off and Fawaz Alhokair slumped 4.1 percent, ending a three-day winning streak.

Cairo's main index lost 1.0 percent as international fund managers sold Egyptian shares for a second straight session, bourse data showed.

Commercial International Bank, the largest listed lender and a favoured stock by foreign investors, slid 3.4 percent.

El Saeed Contracting fell 1.1 percent despite the builder reporting a quadrupling of its first quarter net income to 36 million Egyptian pounds ($4.05 million).

But real estate firm Medinet Nasr rose 2.0 percent after saying quarterly net profit jumped 90 percent to 68.6 million pounds.


In the United Arab Emirates, investors bought shares that had dipped over the past week but trading volumes remained lethargic.

Dubai's index added 0.2 percent with most trade concentrated in small and mid-cap shares. Builder Drake & Scull and amusement park developer Dubai Parks and Resorts rose 0.9 and 0.8 percent respectively.

Investment bank Shuaa Capital climbed 2.8 percent after sources told Reuters it had cut about 15 percent of its workforce, ahead of a possible sale of a stake in the company by Dubai Group.

Abu Dhabi's largest listed stock, Etisalat, rebounded 0.3 percent from Sunday's losses and Dana Gas added 1.9 percent. This helped the main Abu Dhabi index edge up 0.3 percent.

In Qatar, the index rebounded from early losses and added 0.5 percent. Qatar Gas Transport, a constituent of the MSCI emerging market index, jumped 2.4 percent.



* The index slumped 3.1 percent to 6,425 points.


* The index rose 0.2 percent to 3,216 points.


* The index added 0.3 percent to 4,199 points.


* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 9,682 points.


* The index lost 1.0 percent to 7,417 points.


* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 5,315 points.


* The index rose 0.3 percent to 5,948 points.


* The index edged down 0.2 percent to 1,100 points.

(Editing by Andrew Torchia and Tom Heneghan)

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