UK Markets closed

MIDEAST STOCKS-Major Gulf markets steady; Aramco hits lowest level since IPO

By Ateeq Shariff

* Arabian Centres slides on poor Q3 profit * TAQA extends gains on ADPower proposal * Telecom Egypt leaps after update on Vodafone Egypt By Ateeq Shariff Feb 5 (Reuters) - Major Gulf stock markets were steady in quiet trade on Wednesday, while oil giant Saudi Aramco extended losses and hit its lowest mark since it began trading. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index declined 0.5% with Samba Financial Group shedding 2.3%, and shopping mall operator Arabian Centres dropping 1.8% after posting a steep fall in third-quarter profit. Rating agency Fitch said on Wednesday that growth had returned to Saudi banks but remained fragile. Oil giant Saudi Aramco dipped 0.6% to 33.65 riyals ($8.97), hitting its lowest point since it began trading on Dec. 11. Egypt's blue-chip index gained 0.5%; Eastern Company gained 3.7%, while Telecom Egypt jumped 5.4% following its update on Vodafone Egypt. Telecom Egypt said it was closely following Vodafone Group's potential deal to sell its 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt , which has boosted that stock. Telecom Egypt holds the remaining 45%. The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.3%, hit by a 1.1% fall in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 0.3% fall in Etisalat. Maroc Telecom was fined 3.3 billion Moroccan dirhams ($342.8 million) for anti-competitive practices, the operator said on Monday. The company is 53% controlled by the UAE's Etisalat, with the Moroccan state owning 22%. But Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) surged 14.9%, rising for a third day in a row. Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) is planning to take control of the energy firm in an asset swap deal that would create a combined utility with assets worth about 200 billion dirhams ($54.5 billion). In Dubai, the index edged up 0.2% with Dubai Islamic Bank adding 0.5% and Emirates NBD Bank was up 0.4%. The Qatari index added 0.3%. Commercial Bank advanced 2.7% and Qatar Fuel gained 1.9%. SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.5% to 8,094 points ABU DHABI lost 0.3% to 5,081 points DUBAI added 0.2% to 2,772 points QATAR rose 0.3% to 10,298 points EGYPT up 0.5% to 13,987 points BAHRAIN eased 0.5% to 1,655 points OMAN fell 0.5% to 4,125 points KUWAIT down 0.2% at 6,963 points ($1 = 9.6272 Moroccan dirham; $1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham; $1 = 3.7514 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Pravin Char)