Mideast Stocks: Saudi index edges up as Aramco beats quarterly profit estimates

UAE sees improved business environment

  
An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) following the debut of Saudi Aramco's initial public offering (IPO) on the Riyadh's stock market, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 11, 2019.

An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) following the debut of Saudi Aramco's initial public offering (IPO) on the Riyadh's stock market, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 11, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi Arabian stocks edged higher on Tuesday, after first-quarter profit from state oil producer Saudi Aramco beat forecasts, while other major Gulf markets closed mixed.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index ended up 0.1% as Al Rajhi Bank gained 0.4% and Aramco rose 0.7%.

Aramco reported a 30% rise in first-quarter net profit to $21.7 billion, compared with analysts' expectations for $19.48 billion. 

Aramco said its profit was primarily driven by stronger oil prices and higher refining and chemicals margins, helping offset lower crude output.

Saudi market gains were capped by a 2.2% loss in Riyad Bank.

Abu Dhabi's indexwas up 0.4% as the market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank climbed 1.4%.

The Dubai index closed 0.4% down as Dubai Islamic Bank shed 1.1% and Emirates NBD Bank, which traded ex-dividend, fell 0.8%.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai stocks have gained more than 21% and 6%, respectively, this year amid signs of economic recovery.

Business conditions in the non-oil sector of the United Arab Emirates improved in April, with new business growth reaching a 20-month high, a survey showed on Tuesday, as the Gulf state's economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit UAE Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which covers manufacturing and services, rose to 52.7, its highest level since July 2019 and the fifth consecutive month it has held above the 50 line that separates growth from contraction.

Qatar's index was down 0.4% with most of its constituents declining. Industries Qatar led losers by retreating 0.9%.

Outside the Gulf, the Egyptian blue-chip index slipped 0.1%. Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development plunged 12.1% after trading ex-dividend, weighing the most on the index.

Losses were offset by a 0.6% gain at the country's largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt and 2.1% rise in the cigarette maker Eastern Company, which reported a 24.3% increase in the profit for nine-month period that ended on March 31. 

(Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair) ((Maqsood.Alam@thomsonreuters.com;))

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