Mideast Stocks: Saudi shares fall, major Gulf markets trade mixed

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 1.1%


Saudi Arabia's stock market fell in early trade on Thursday, as oil prices retreated due to a spike in U.S. inventories and rising COVID-19 cases, while Abu Dhabi stocks were set to gain for a fourth week.

Brent crude dropped 94 cents, or 1.1%, to $83.64 a barrel by 0655 GMT, after official figures showed a surprise jump in U.S. inventories of crude, and rising cases of COVID-19 in Europe, Russia, and some outbreaks of infections in China dented hopes for an economic recovery.  

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 1.1%, weighed down by a 2.6% fall in Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC).

SABIC, the Gulf's largest petrochemical firm, reported a net profit of 5.6 billion riyals ($1.5 billion), up from 1.1 billion riyals in the same period last year, but missed Refinitiv-compiled analysts' consensus estimate of 6.1 billion riyals. 

Among other losers, Saudi Industrial Investment Group tumbled 8.4%, a day after it reported a sharp decrease in earnings compared with the previous quarter.

However, Leejam Sports jumped 5%, following a rise in quarterly earnings.

In Abu Dhabi, the index gained 0.3%, with Emirates Telecommunications Group advancing 1.3%, after it announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi Investment Office to enhance digital economy access for companies in Abu Dhabi. 

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the biggest lender in the United Arab Emirates, edged up 0.1% in a choppy trade, following a rise in third-quarter net profit. 

UAE banks are witnessing a rebound in earnings after the economy was rattled by the pandemic in 2020, with FAB's investment banking business benefiting from increased deals flow in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai's main share index fell 0.3%, hit by a 0.4% fall in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.

The Qatari benchmark rose 0.7%, with most of the financial stocks in positive territory including Qatar National Bank which rose 1.3%.

($1 = 3.7508 riyals)

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

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