Food companies buoyed the Saudi stock market on Sunday after better than expected results from the region's largest dairy food producer while a visit by the king of Saudi Arabia to Egypt failed to lift the Cairo bourse.
The Saudi index advanced 1.4 percent after dairy producer Almarai reported a slight rise in first-quarter net profit in a challenging market. Almarai's shares rose by 3.6 percent, helping the food sector to a 4.2 percent gain.
Savola, which has a 36.5 percent stake in Almarai, jumped 6 percent to 44.10 riyals and is Riyadh-based NCB Capital's top pick in the sector.
Shares in Jarir Marketing, one of the kingdom's largest retailers by market value, shrugged off a 29.5 percent drop in first-quarter net profit and gained 2.4 percent to 117.75 riyals.
Riyad Capital rates Jarir a "buy", with a target price of 189 riyals, citing its attractive dividend yield as a factor in its rating.
Construction and engineering contractor Alkhodari edged up 0.4 percent after it booked a 15 million riyal ($4 million) profit from the sale of some of its equipment last week. The revenue will be reflected in the second quarter.
The petrochemical sector was another strong performer, spurred by Friday's rebound in oil prices, with Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) climbing 2 percent.
In Cairo, Egypt's main index EGX30 fell 1 percent, with investor caution prevailing despite the visit by Saudi King Salman.
"There are no direct indications yet of grants, aid or central bank deposits by the Saudis to Egypt," said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Cairo's Naeem Brokerage, adding that the market resumed the correction that began after Egypt's mid-March currency devaluation.
Bourse data showed that local and foreign traders were net sellers on Sunday, while non-Egyptian Arab investors were net buyers.
King Salman said Sunday during a "historic" address before the Egyptian parliament that Riyadh and Cairo have agreed to set up a "free trade zone" in the Sinai Peninsula.
Out of 163 stocks traded for the day, 51 saw gains and 82 went down.
Market bellwether Commercial International Bank (CIB) declined 1.28 percent to register EGP 39.18 per share.
The country's leading listed investment bank EFG Hermes dropped 0.92 percent to close at EGP 9.71 per share.
Telecom Egypt rose 0.60 percent to be sold at EGP 8.40 per share.
* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.
* An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the share price of EFG Hermes as EGP 4.16. We regret the error.