Mideast Stocks: Saudi outperforms region on oil, ease in lockdown

Halwani Brothers soars on strong Q1 profit

A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 8, 2020.

A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 8, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply on Thursday, outperforming the region on rising oil prices and easing coronavirus-related restrictions.

Benchmark Brent crude was up 11.49%, or $2.59 at $25.13 a barrel at 1157 GMT, buoyed by signs that the U.S. crude glut is easing and fuel demand battered by COVID-19 restrictions is starting to pick up.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index  advanced 1.8%, with oil giant Saudi Aramco gaining 2.3%, whereas petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries climbed 4.3%.

Amongst others, food producer Halwani Brothers surged 10% to become the top gainer on the index after it reported a sharp rise in first-quarter profit.

on Wednesday, Saudis began tentatively returning to shopping malls and open-air markets after authorities relaxed restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The Abu Dhabi index reversed earlier losses to close 0.2% up, helped by a 1.6% rise in top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

However, the gains in Abu Dhabi's index were capped by losses at telecoms firm Etisalat and energy firm Dana Gas, which were down 1.2% and 4.9%, respectively. The duo traded ex-dividend.

In Dubai, the index rose 1.1%, driven by a 4.9% jump in Emirates NBD Bank and a 2.2% gain in Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB).

DIB, the United Arab Emirates' largest sharia-compliant lender, reported a net profit of 1.11 billion dirhams ($302.21 million) in first-quarter, down from 1.355 billion dirhams a year earlier.

EFG Hermes had projected a figure of 903 million dirhams and FAB Securities 1.1 billion.

Qatar's index ended 0.7% higher as petrochemical firm Industries Qatar leapt 5.3%, while Barwa Real Estate added 2.8% ahead of its first-quarter earnings announcement.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip indexwas up 0.1%, with Commercial International Bank adding 0.7%.

($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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