Saudi Arabian stocks rose on Thursday as most of its banking shares climbed, while Egypt outperformed the region led by gains in blue-chips. Other Middle Eastern bourses were mixed.
Egypt's blue-chip index advanced, 1.1% with 24 of 30 stocks on the index rising. Telecom Egypt soared 10%, reaching its highest since September.
The stock was up for a third session, helped by Vodafone Group's VOD.L deal to sell its 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt. Telecom Egypt said on Sunday it had no intention of selling its 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt.
Stock exchange data showed Egyptian investors were net buyers of stocks.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index closed up 0.8%, with Al Rajhi Bank and National Commercial Bank (NCB) rising 1.2% and 2.5%, respectively.
On Wednesday, the latter reported a 18.8% rise in 2019 net profit to 11.4 billion riyals ($3.04 billion).
But, state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco retreated 0.7% to 34.2 riyals. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Wednesday it had launched rockets and drone strikes at Saudi targets, including Aramco oil facilities, the group's first claim of such attacks since it offered to halt them four months ago.
Oil prices were higher after the reports but fell on Thursday, amid concerns over the potential economic impact of the coronavirus that continues to spread worldwide.
Dubai's main share index declined 0.5%, weighed down by a 1.2% fall in Dubai Islamic Bank and a 1.9% decrease in budget airliner Air Arabia.
The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.2%. First Abu Dhabi Bank eased 0.3% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was down 1%.
However, International Holding gained 1.5%, a day after the company reported a rise in full-year profit.
The Qatari index traded flat with Qatar Fuel losing 1.3%, while Qatar Insurance Co ended 1.6% higher.
($1 = 3.7511 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))