Major Gulf stock markets were mixed in early trade on Wednesday as banking shares weighed on the Saudi index, while property shares supported the Dubai index.
The benchmark index of Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), slipped 0.3%. Al Rajhi Bank dropped 0.3%, while National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's largest lender, was down 0.5%.
However, Saudi Arabian Mining Company rose 0.9%. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's cabinet approved a new mining law that facilitates investor access to financing and supports exploration and geological survey activities, state news agency SPA said, quoting the minister of mining and industry, Bandar Alkhorayef.
In Dubai, the index rose 0.6%, with Emaar Properties rising 2.5% and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications up 1.6%.
Dubai's non-oil private sector economy contract in May, although at a slower pace than in previous months, as some restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak were eased, a survey showed.
The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.2%, driven by a 0.5% increase in First Abu Dhabi Bank.
In Qatar, the index eased 0.3%, with Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest lender, losing 0.8% and Qatar Fuel falling 1.2%.
The Gulf state will start lifting coronavirus restrictions under a four-phase plan starting on June 15, when some mosques can reopen and flights can depart, government spokeswoman Lulwa Rashed al-Khater said on Monday.
Qatar has the second-highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia in the GCC.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))