Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Tuesday, as worries about the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant eased, with the Dubai index outperforming the region.
A health official in South Africa reported over the weekend that Omicron cases in the country had only shown mild symptoms, while Dr. Anthony Fauci — the top U.S. infectious disease expert — told CNN that "it does not look like there's a great degree of severity" so far.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index finished 0.8% higher, with Al Rajhi Bank adding 1.5%, while petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) gained 1.1%.
Omani state energy company OQ signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Monday with SABIC on developing Oman's Duqm petrochemical complex project.
Omani and Saudi firms signed 13 MoUs valued at $30 billion, the Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
The agreements were announced amid an official visit by the Saudi crown prince, who started a Gulf tour on Monday before a Gulf summit this month.
Dubai's main share index advanced 1%, outperforming the region, buoyed by a 2.5% leap in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties .
Dubai stocks continue moving up as an optimistic sentiment takes over and Omicron fears subside, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst of XTB MENA.
"The market remains supported by favorable expectations among investors as they expect the announced initial public offerings to drive volumes and liquidity higher. The market is also benefitting from the positive developments in non-oil sectors."
Meanwhile, Dubai house prices will extend their rise into the next year at twice the rate expected three months ago, driven by demand from foreign investors and improving affordability, according to a Reuters poll of property analysts.
In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 0.2%, retreating from a record high, with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropping 2.6%.
The Qatari benchmark added 0.4%, ending two sessions of losses, led by a 1.4% gain in Qatar Islamic Bank .
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index edged 0.2% higher, helped by a 1.4% increase in top lender Commercial International Bank.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))