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MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lead Saudi lower, blue chips gain in Egypt

* Egypt's Eastern Co rises on higher FY profit forecast * Saudi's Al Hammadi falls on lower FY net profit * Middle East Paper slides on SICO downgrade * Five of six property firms rise in Dubai By Shakeel Ahmad March 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell for a fifth straight session on Monday as most of its banking sector stocks dropped, while Egypt's blue-chip index gained, helped by a rise in Eastern Company after it forecast a higher full-year profit.

Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.5 percent with lender Samba Financial Group slipping 1.8 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi shedding 1.7 percent.

But the index is still up 7.7 percent this year, outperforming major Gulf markets. Qualified foreign investors led the rally and have been net-buyers of Saudi stocks every week this year.

Saudi exchange data released late on Sunday showed foreigners bought 985 million riyals ($262.65 million) of stocks on a net basis last week.

This is a huge turnaround compared with the second half of last year when the index saw a fund outflow in the aftermath of the Oct. 2 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Big investors in Saudi Arabia are pushing ahead with deals and pouring money back into its stock market as the kingdom tries to move on from the Khashoggi's murder, Reuters reported on Monday.

Al Hammadi Company For Development And Investment fell 2.5 percent after posting a 17 percent fall in its full-year net profit.

Paperboard maker Middle East Paper was down 1.8 percent after SICO Research downgraded the stock to "sell" from "buy" and cut the price target to 18 riyals from 27 riyals.

SICO said the firm reported a 50 percent year-over-year drop in its fourth-quarter net profit, adding that downside risk to containerboard pricing remained high in 2019 amid slowing global growth and significant supply addition in Europe.

Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.8 percent with investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding gaining 2.2 percent.

The index has risen 15.8 percent so far this year, outperforming all major markets in the Middle East region as Egypt's economy strengthened.

Tobacco products maker Eastern Co added 2.9 percent after it forecast a net profit after tax of 3.8 billion Egyptian pounds ($218.39 million) for financial year 2019-2020, a 17 percent increase from the 2018-2019 forecast of 3.25 billion pounds.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.5 percent, bolstered by real estate stocks. Blue-chip developer Emaar Development increased 1.1 percent while its unit Emaar Malls rose 4.2 percent.

The Dubai index was one of the worst performing major markets last year due in part to beaten down property shares, but they have been rebounding recently after posting robust fourth-quarter earnings.

Qatar index was down 0.3 percent with Qatar International Islamic Bank falling 6.1 percent.

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with First Abu Dhabi Bank slipping 0.4 percent. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) SAUDI The index slipped 0.5 pct to 8,426 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.5 pct to 2,592 points QATAR The index fell 0.3 pct to 9,744 points ABU DHABI The index was flat at 4,870 points EGYPT The index was up 0.8 pct to 15,098 points KUWAIT The index edged up 0.1 pct to 5,583 points OMAN The index was down 0.1 pct at 4,085 points BAHRAIN The index was flat at 1,406 points ($1 = 17.4000 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)