|15 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Oman leads Gulf higher; Saudi bucks regional strength

Saudi snaps four-day winning streak

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Most Gulf bourses ended higher on Wednesday, with Oman leading the gains, as robust company earnings and an ease in geopolitical tensions lifted sentiment, although weakness in financial shares weighed on the Saudi index.

Regional stocks had declined after the killing of an Iranian commander by a U.S. drone strike and the launch of Iranian missiles in retaliation, however, a de-escalation in tensions has revived buying interest in Gulf equities.

Oman's blue-chip index, which traded after a three-day break following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, advanced 1.6%, marking its biggest one-day gain this month.

Bank Muscat closed 2.8% higher, while Raysut Cement rose 7.6%. Both of them reported a sharp rise in their annual net profit.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index retreated 0.5%, ending a four-day winning streak. Al Rajhi Bank ticked down 0.6%, while National Commercial Bank eased 0.8%.

State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 0.4% to 34.7 riyals.

Earlier in the day, JP Morgan started coverage of the energy giant with an "overweight" rating and a price target of 37 riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs' "neutral", Morgan Stanley's "underweight" and HSBC's "hold" ratings. 

Dubai's main share index rose 0.5%, driven by a 0.9% gain in Dubai Islamic Bank and a 0.8% increase in Emirates NBD.

Amongst others, National Central Cooling Co (Tabreed) TABR.DU added 2.1% following establishment of a new entity to consolidate its service businesses.

In Abu Dhabi, the index reversed course to edge up 0.1%, as International Holding Company soared 9.6% and Emirates Telecommunications advanced 0.5%.

The Qatari index ended flat with banking stocks moving sideways. Qatar Islamic Bank gained 1.8%. After-market close, the sharia-compliant lender reported an increase in full-year net profit.

Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's biggest lender by assets, was down 0.2%, even as it reported a rise in annual profit. The bank posted a net profit of 14.4 billion riyals ($3.96 billion) in 2019, up from 13.8 billion riyals a year earlier.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index inched up 0.1% as market heavyweight Commercial International Bank added 0.6%.

($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals)

($1 = 3.7514 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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