|12 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks-Gulf markets gain after no escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions

Amanat Holdings gains on acquisition plan

A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi Bank in Riyadh November 22, 2008. Image used for illustrative purpose.

A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi Bank in Riyadh November 22, 2008. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

Middle East stocks closed higher on Sunday amid relief at no further escalation in tensions between Iran and the United States, but shares of Saudi Aramco retreated.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump backed away from days of angry rhetoric against Iran as the two countries tried to defuse a crisis over the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. 

Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.3%, led by a 5.6% jump in telecom operator Etihad Etisalat.

Advanced Petrochemical added 2.2% after reporting a 5.9% increase in its estimated annual profit to 759 million riyals ($202 million). 

Gains, however, were capped by losses in financial and energy shares. Samba Financial Group dropped 2.8%, while Saudi Aramco fell 0.6% to 34.8 riyals.

Aramco has seen selling over the past week as it was affected by the U.S.-tensions and as investors are scrutinising the company's prospects more closely now that the euphoria surrounding its IPO is fading.

On Sunday, the oil giant said it had exercised its "greenshoe option" to sell an additional 450 million shares, raising the size of its initial public offering (IPO) to $29.4 billion. Aramco initially raised a then-record $25.6 billion in its IPO in December by selling 3 billion shares at 32 riyals. 

In Qatar, Doha Bank and United Development rose by 6.2% and 3.3% respectively, pushing the index up by 0.6%.

Dubai's index edged up 0.1% as its biggest lender Emirates NBD increased 1.2%, while Amanat Holdings closed up 1.7% after saying it was assessing a possible acquisition of a stake in the Middle East operations of VPS Healthcare Group

Abu Dhabi's index was up 0.2%, with market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank gaining 0.3%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index gained 0.5% with Commercial International Bank Egypt adding 0.4%.

Stock markets in Kuwait and Oman were closed following the death of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said and will resume trading on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

($1 = 3.7514 riyals)

(Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton) ((Maqsood.Alam@thomsonreuters.com;))

More From Markets