Major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued on Thursday, led by the Saudi index, amid rising geopolitical tensions in the region, while negotiations on a ceasefire plan for the Gaza were set to continue in Cairo.

Israeli forces massed tanks and opened fire close to built-up areas of Rafah, residents said, after U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to withhold weapons from Israel if its forces launch a major invasion of the southern Gaza city.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index dropped 1.4%, with all of its constituents posting losses, led by utilities, consumer staples and materials stocks. ACWA Power declined 7.4% and Saudi Arabian Mining slipped 2.7%. Retal Urban Development Co, however, surged 5.3%, the sharpest intraday rise since mid-December 2022 after the developer posted a 50% increase in its first-quarter net profit.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index retreated 0.6%, after two straight sessions of gains, with First Abu Dhabi Bank , the UAE's largest lender, dropping 1% and the conglomerate International Holding Company shedding 0.7%. Among other losers, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Distribution slipped 2% after it reported an 18.8% decline in first quarter net profit sequentially. However, its quarterly profit inched up 2.3% year on year.

Dubai's benchmark index fell 0.3%, pressured by losses in industry, utilities, real estate and finance sectors. The blue-chip developer Emaar Properties slipped 1.1% and Emirates NBD, the emirate's largest lender, dropped 1.5%. However, shares of Spinneys 1961 Holding closed at 1.60 dirham per share, up 4.6% from its IPO price of 1.53 dirham a piece in its market debut.

The Qatari benchmark index rose 0.1%, helped by a 3% gain in Qatar Navigation and a 4.5% rise in Qatar Gas Transport Nakilat. Nakilat, the world's largest LNG fleet operator and state-owned energy giant QatarEnergy signed a long-term agreement on Wednesday to charter and operate nine QC-Max LNG vessels. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.1%, aided by gains in materials, consumer staples, healthcare and finance sectors. Abu Qir Fertilizers rose 3.1% and Eastern Company added 1.9%.

  • SAUDI ARABIA fell 1.4% to 12,284
  • KUWAIT up 0.4% to 7,717
  • QATAR added 0.1% to 9,633
  • EGYPT gained 0.1% to 26,003
  • BAHRAIN added 0.2% to 2,030
  • OMAN was up 0.3% to 4,770
  • ABU DHABI lost 0.6% to 9,119
  • DUBAI dropped 0.3% to 4,180

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)