Banks drag Qatar to 3-mth low; UAE mkts end mixed

Financial stocks dragged down Qatar’s benchmark to its lowest close in nearly three months as investors sold-off on lower than expected cash dividends.

Shares in Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) dipped 3.1 percent to their lowest since Nov 23. The lender posted a 32.6 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday that missed analysts’ forecasts.The Gulf state’s second largest lender by market value proposed a 45 percent dividend distribution.

Doha Bank dropped 2.9 percent after its fourth-quarter profit jumped 49.4 percent but missed estimates. The board proposed a cash dividend of QR4.50 per share.

“Qatar has been losing ground because anticipations were high on dividend yield for the financial sector, which was proven to be the opposite,” said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments.

“There is growth in the financial sector and hopefully the banking stocks will recover as people start looking forward to Q1 results which are still expected to be strong.”

Doha’s index ended 1.1 percent lower at 8,462 points, its lowest close since Oct. 25. The market extended losses to 3.6 percent so far this month, the worst performing Gulf market.Masraf Al Rayan fells 2.3 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar declined 2.1 percent.

Elsewhere, UAE markets ended mixed with Dubai’s index halting two-days of gains, down 0.3 percent to 1,328 points.Dubai Financial Market, the only listed bourse in the Gulf, fell 3.4 percent. Bellwether Emaar Properties shed 0.4 percent and telecoms operator du dipped 1.4 percent.

The bourse hit an all-time low on Monday, extending a general downward trend since April 2011 as investors saw little improvement in performance of main representative sectors such as real estate and banking.

In Abu Dhabi, the index ticked up 0.2 percent to 2,337 points, up for a second session since Tuesday’s three-year low.Invest Bank climbed 6.3 percent, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank gained 1.4 percent and Dana Gas advanced 2.7 percent.

In Oman, Renaissance Services tumbled to a three-year low as foreign investors sold on concerns over low freight spot rates.Shares in Renaissance, which has marine industry subsidiaries, were down 4.2 percent, slumping to their lowest since April 2009.The Baltic freight index was at $926, its lowest since early 2009.

“The negative sentiment is simply over-whelming on Renaissance,” said Vickneswaran Gowribalan, a Muscat-based fund manager. “The Baltic index may signal low freight spot rates for Renaissance in its short-term fleet.”

These concerns have spurred foreigners to dump Renaissance shares, he added.Oman’s index declined 0.3 percent to 5,581 points, its lowest level since Dec. 11.