Most stock markets in the Gulf were in red on Thursday, as investors sifted through the latest corporate earnings, while geopolitical strife in the region weighed on sentiment. Israel stepped up airstrikes on Rafah overnight, killing at least six Palestinians, medics said on Thursday, after saying it would evacuate civilians from the Gaza border city and storm it despite allies' warnings this could cause mass casualties.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.8%, hit by a 6.9% fall in ACWA Power Company and a 1.4% decline in Al Rajhi Bank.

Dubai's main share index added 0.1%, helped by a 1.9% rise in top lender Emirates NBD following better-than-expected first-quarter results. Emirates NBD reported net profit of 6.7 billion dirhams ($1.82 billion) for the first three months of the year, compared to 6 billion dirhams last year, outperforming analysts' estimate of 4.5 billion dirhams as per LSEG data.

The Dubai bourse experienced another volatile trading session, hovering around the same level throughout the week, as some uncertainty remained, said Daniel Takieddine, CEO MENA at BDSwiss. "Sectors' performances were mixed, except for the financial sector led by Emirates NBD."

In Abu Dhabi, the index was flat slightly into the negative territory. Crude prices — a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets — held steady after slower economic growth in the first quarter added to signs of retreating fuel demand in the United States, while investors also remained concerned about the risks of wider conflict in the Middle East.

The Qatari benchmark was down 0.3%, with Qatar Electricity and Water Co losing 2.9%, extending losses from the previous session on weak first-quarter earnings. On the other hand, Dairy firm Baladna - which is not part of the index - jumped more than 3% after signing a $3.5 billion contract to build a powdered milk farm in the country's southern region of Adrar.

The company also reported a sharp rise in first-quarter earnings.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index retreated 3.2%, falling for a third consecutive session.

  • SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.8% to 12,255
  • ABU DHABI flat at 9,042
  • DUBAI added 0.1% to 4,170
  • QATAR dropped 0.3% to 9,638
  • EGYPT lost 3.2% to 25,918
  • BAHRAIN was up 0.2% to 2,017
  • OMAN rose 0.1% to 4,714
  • KUWAIT added 0.2% to 2,017

($1 = 3.6724 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)