Mideast Stocks: UAE markets strengthen, Saudi Arabia edges down

Emirates NBD best performer on Dubai benchmark

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

Markets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) finished higher on Wednesday, with Abu Dhabi index leading the advancements, buoyed by gains in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Ban.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark closed 1.4% higher, bouncing back from losses in the previous session.

FAB was the best performer on the Abu Dhabi index, putting on 2.5%, while real estate firm Aldar Properties  added 3.5%.

The bank on Tuesday after-market hours said its underlying operating performance is expected to improve in 2021, driven mainly by a healthy pipeline of business from government and state-linked companies, and by its latest acquisition in Egypt. 

The lender posted a 16% drop in 2020 net profit on higher impairment charges, but that came in better than analysts' average forecast of 9.36 billion dirhams, according to Refinitiv data.

Dubai's main share index gained about 1.1%, with its biggest bank Emirates NBD adding 2.6% as the lender posted a better-than-expected annual net profit.

Sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank tacked on 2%.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, edged down 0.1%, dragged by Samba Financial Group, which fell 0.8% and was the worst performer on the index.

Saudi Arabia raised $5 billion in a dual-tranche bond sale with tenors of 12 and 40 years, a document showed, as it seeks to plug a large fiscal deficit. 

The world's top oil exporter has taken a severe blow from the pandemic, which, along with a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia last year, sent crude prices tumbling.

In Qatar, the index eked out a narrow 0.1% gain, breaking a four-session losing run.

Qatar Industries was the best performer, adding 0.8%, while Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's biggest lender by assets, rose 0.6%.

The index's gains, however, were capped by a 1.8% decline in Qatar International Islamic Bank.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.5%, thanks to gains in Commercial International Bank  (CIB), the country's largest private bank, which rose 0.4%, and tobacco firm Eastern Co, which put on 1.6%.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.) ((abyjose.koilparambil@thomsonreuters.com; +91 (0)8061822683;))

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