Mideast Stocks: Most of Gulf flat; Saudi index rises

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Most stock markets in the Gulf ended steady on Thursday in the absence of any fresh index-moving catalysts, although Saudi index extended gains for a sixth consecutive session.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index rose 0.5%, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 0.9% and Saudi Arabian Mining Company 1211.SE advancing 2.6%.

The index also managed to close the week 3.8% firmer.

The kingdom’s economy shrank by 3.8% in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, preliminary government data showed on Wednesday, but it grew 2.8% on a quarterly basis. 

Oil prices, a key catalyst for financial markets in the Gulf region, fell as renewed lockdowns and the emergence of new coronavirus variants weighed on the prospects for a swift demand recovery.

Brent crude lost 52 cents, or 0.9%, to $60.95 a barrel by 1122 GMT.

Dubai’s main share index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 0.4% rise in Emirates NBD Bank and a 1.3% increase in the diversified Gulf-based investment group Dubai Investments.

The index’s gains, however, were curbed by losses at blue-chip developer Emaar Properties, which retreated 1.3%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index finished flat, with telecoms giant Etisalat rising 0.4%, ahead of its earnings.

The Qatari index eased 0.1%, hit by a 0.7% fall in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar.

Qatar Petroleum has set the March official selling price (OSP) for its Marine crude at 65 cents a barrel above the average of Platts Oman and Dubai quotes, down 5 cents from the previous month, a pricing document showed on Thursday. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index also closed flat.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))