Most major Gulf stock markets ended higher on Thursday buoyed by rising oil prices and solid corporate earnings, but Abu Dhabi bucked the trend to close lower.
Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, rose more than $2 a barrel on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session, buoyed by improved risk appetite among investors as lower crude inventories and a rebound in gasoline demand in the United States supported prices.
Meanwhile, most of the Gulf central banks lifted their main interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday, moving with the U.S. Federal Reserve as their currencies are pegged to the dollar.
In Dubai, the main share index advanced 1.3%, bolstered by a 3.9% surge in Dubai's biggest lender Emirates NBD , after posting a 42% jump in second-quarter net profit, boosted by higher income and lower impairments.
Dubai stock market continued to see improvements thanks to the course of monetary policy and strong earnings from local banks like Emirates NBD and EIB, said Fadi Reyad, market analyst at CAPEX.com MENA.
Among other stocks, Real estate developer Deyaar Development was also up 3.1%, after posting a more than 300% jump in its second-quarter net profit to 32.7 million dirhams ($8.90 million).
In Qatar, the benchmark edged up 0.2%, as losses in financial stocks offset by gains in industrials, with Industries Qatar jumping 4% and Ooredoo up 3.3%. The telco announced its quarterly results on Wednesday after the market closed. It made a profit of 815.6 million riyals ($221.90 million), compared with a loss of 1.15 billion riyals a year earlier.
"Qatari stock market saw an increase as natural gas prices and earnings provided some support. The market remains exposed to price correction after a strong rebound as natural gas could reverse its course", added Fadi Reyad.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 0.9%, supported by material stocks, with Saudi Cement Company and Arab Cement Company climbing 1.9% and 2.6% respectively.
Abu Dhabi's index reversed course to end 0.1% lower, pressured by a 0.8% dip in country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), after reporting broadly a flat second quarter profit, strucking a cautious tone as operating expenses rose. FAB posted second quarter profit of 2.91 billion dirhams ($792 million), just under 1% higher than a year earlier.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.9%, with the country's largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt increasing 1.3 while Egypt Kuwait Holding was up 4.2%.
(Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)