Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday, with the Abu Dhabi index reaching a record high buoyed by strong corporate earnings.
The Abu Dhabi index closed up 0.8% at 10,198 points, bolstered by a 3.3% leap in conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC), gaining for a fourth session in five. IHC expects to increase its takeover activity, including in India and Turkey, as global market turbulence has created "a buyers' market," its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday. The company on Monday reported a 137% year-on-year increase in net profit for the first half of the year at 10.35 billion dirhams. IHC, Abu Dhabi's most valuable listed company, has a market capitalisation of more than $167 billion and assets in the fast-growing healthcare and industrial sectors. Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company advanced 2.4%, after reporting a sharp rise in first-half net profit.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.8%, led by a 1.4% rise in Saudi British Bank. Abdullah Al Othaim Market jumped 4% after the retail chain approved to sell its land in Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah for 211.3 million riyals ($56.21 million).
Dubai's main share index added 0.3%, helped by a 1.8% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties. Dubai's biggest bank Emirates NBD has given most employees a pay rise of up to 8% to help cushion against rising costs of living driven by inflation, two sources familiar with the matter said. The average rental prices for apartments and townhouses in Dubai rose by 29% and 33%, respectively, in the first half of the year and for villas by 64%, according to Betterhomes, as the property market continued a strong post-pandemic recovery. Emirates NBD reversed early losses to end flat.
The Qatari benchmark rose 0.4%, with the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank climbing 1.9%. On the other hand, Salam International Investment dropped 4.4% following a decline in first-half profit.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index concluded flat. Egypt's annual urban consumer inflation accelerated to a higher-than expected 13.6% year-on-year in July from 13.2% in June, data from the country's statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Wednesday. Egypt has been hurt by the increase in global commodity prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)