Qatar's stock market outperformed Gulf peers on Wednesday amid rising natural gas prices, while the Abu Dhabi index edged closer to a record closing high set on Aug. 11.
U.S. natural gas futures climbed about 3% to a 14-year high on Wednesday, on a drop in daily output, hotter than normal weather on the West Coast and in Texas, and near-record global prices.
The Qatari benchmark index advanced 1.8%, with most of the stocks in the index in positive territory including Qatar Islamic Bank, which jumped 3.8%. The Qatari stock market continues to find support amid surging natural gas prices, for which demand is still elevated due to high temperatures this summer, said Ahmed Fouad, head of sales at Emporium Capital.
In Abu Dhabi, the index finished 0.7% higher, edging closer to last Thursday's record, led by conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC). Shares of IHC, the most valuable company on the Abu Dhabi bourse with a market capitalisation of around $167 billion, have risen more than 120% so far this year. IHC, which straddles sectors from healthcare to real estate to IT and utilities, made 70 acquisitions worth 10 billion dirhams ($2.7 billion) this year.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.8%, with Retal Urban Development Co rising 1.3%, while Saudi Research and Media surged 10% after reporting a rise in quarterly profit.
Dubai's main share index climbed 1.3%, boosted by a 3.3% leap in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties ahead of a board meeting on Thursday to discuss the sale of its e-commerce fashion business.
The operator of Dubai International said on Wednesday more than 14 million passengers had travelled through the airport in the second quarter, and raised its forecast for the year to 62.4 million passengers.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed 2.2% higher, led by a 3.2% gain in top lender Commercial International Bank. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accepted the resignation of central bank governor Tarek Amer, more than a year before the completion of his second term, and appointed him as a presidential adviser, Sisi's office said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes)