Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Tuesday, with the Saudi index at an 18-month high, although the gains were limited on geopolitical tensions in the region. The Iran-aligned Houthis continued their attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, with at least four more vessels hit by drone and missile strikes since Friday.

Houthi militants said on Monday they had attacked the Rubymar cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden which was at risk of sinking, raising the stakes in their campaign to disrupt global shipping in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged up 0.1%, closing at its highest since August 2022, helped by a 0.8% rise in Al Rajhi Bank. Elsewhere, Saudi Telecom advanced 2.5% after reporting an annual net profit of 13.30 billion riyals ($3.55 billion), up from 12.71 billion riyals a year earlier. The telecom firm also proposed a special dividend of 1 riyal per share for 2023, alongside a regular annual payout of 0.40 riyal per share.

The Qatari benchmark added 0.1%, helped by a 0.8% gain petrochemical maker Industries Qatar. The Qatari bourse was relatively stable after maintaining a strong rebound from the previous week, said Joseph Dahrieh, managing principal at Tickmill. "The market saw mixed performances among banking stocks and reacted to the geopolitical tensions and declining energy prices."

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%.

Oil prices - a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - edged lower but remained near three-week highs on heightened Middle East tensions and as China showed some signs of economic recovery.

Dubai's main share index closed 0.1% higher, helped by a 3% rise in MashreqBank.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.4%, hit by a 1.8% fall in Commercial International Bank .

  • SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.1% to 12,607
  • ABU DHABI fell 0.1% to 9,400
  • DUBAI added 0.1% to 4,277
  • QATAR was up 0.1% to 10,308
  • EGYPT lost 0.4% to 29,331
  • BAHRAIN eased 0.1% to 2,049
  • OMAN dropped 1% to 4,582
  • KUWAIT gained 0.6% to 8,107

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)