Most major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued in early trade on Thursday, with Dubai on track to end three sessions of gains, although Saudi Arabia bucked the trend to move higher.
The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia added 0.3%, with Saudi Telecom gaining 0.7% while Riyad Bank traded 0.9% up.
Elsewhere, oil behemoth Saudi Aramco was up 0.3%.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, beat Russia to keep its ranking as China’s top crude supplier in 2020, Chinese government data showed on Wednesday.
Oil demand in China, the world’s top oil importer, remained strong last year even as the coronavirus crisis hammered global appetite. Chinese imports rose 7.3% to a record of 542.4 million tonnes or 10.85 million barrels per day (bpd).
In Dubai, the main share index retreated 1.2%, as most stocks on the index were in negative territory including Emirates NBD Bank, which declined 1.7%.
In the previous session, Emirates NBD advanced over 4% after it reported a 20% increase in the number and value of fund transfers via its DirectRemit platform in 2020.
The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.9%, hit by a 3.1% fall in Emirates Telecommunications. Financial stocks also drove the losses including the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank, which was down 0.5%.
The index’s losses, however, were capped by gains at aquaculture firm International Holding, which jumped over 5%, after it reported a sharp rise in 2020 profit.
In Qatar, the index eased 0.3%, with Qatar Fuel Co losing 1.6%.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))