Most stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Tuesday, pressured by losses in their banking shares as the International Monetary Fund warns on rising debt risks in virus-hit Middle East.
The IMF said on Sunday countries in the Middle East and Central Asia need to curb their financing requirements, as a surge in government debt, exacerbated by the pandemic, threatens recovery prospects.
Lower demand and a slump in commodity prices eroded state finances last year. In the Middle East and North Africa, fiscal deficits widened to 10.1% of GDP in 2020 from 3.8% of GDP in 2019.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index was down 0.1%, hit by a 0.8% decrease in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.4% fall in Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services.
In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, losing 0.7%, while Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank retreated 4.1%, as the sharia-compliant lender went ex-dividend.
In Dubai, the main share index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 0.4% increase in its top lender Emirates NBD Bank.
However, Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) fell 0.7%.
DIB, the largest Islamic lender in the United Arab Emirates, has hired banks to arrange a planned benchmark issuance of U.S. dollar-denominated Additional Tier 1 sukuk, a document showed on Monday.
In Qatar, the index lost 0.2%, weighed down y a 1.8% fall in Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's biggest lender.
On Sunday, the lender reported a first-quarter net profit of 3.3 billion riyals ($906.32 million), down by 7% from a year earlier as it booked 1.4 billion riyals in "precautionary" loan-loss provisions.
($1 = 3.6411 Qatar riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))