Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets gain as Suez Canal jam continues

Major stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Sunday

  
A Saudi man inspects a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

A Saudi man inspects a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Major stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Sunday, as investors shrugged off the Suez Canal jam on hopes for a global economic recovery.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf region's financial shares, rose more than 4% on Friday on worries global supplies of crude and refined products could be disrupted for weeks as workers try to dislodge the vessel blocking the Suez Canal.

Suez Canal salvage teams were alternating between dredging and tugging on Sunday to dislodge a massive container ship blocking the busy waterway, while two sources said efforts had been complicated by rock under the ship's bow. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index advanced 0.7%, with petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries climbing 1.9% and Saudi Telecom Company closing 2.3% higher.

Ratings agency S&P Global last week affirmed Saudi Arabia's 'A-/A-2' ratings with a stable outlook, forecasting that its economy will return to positive growth in 2021. 

But food wholesaler Abdullah Al Othaim Markets retreated 3% as it went ex-dividend.

In Dubai, the main share index finished 0.2% higher, driven by a 0.9% increase in its largest lender Emirates NBD and a 2.7% rise in DAMAC Properties.

Elsewhere, Gulf Navigation, maritime and shipping firm, gained over 2%.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.5%, boosted by a 14.5% surge in International Holding Company.

The firm has gone through rapid expansion across its major business sectors, resulting in a sharp growth in its financials and positioning it for long-term growth.

So far this year, International Holding has risen over 40%.

In Qatar, the benchmark increased 0.2%, led by a 1.4% rise in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar.

However, the index's gains were capped by losses at other blue-chip shares including Qatar Navigation, a top Doha-based shipping and logistics group, which eased 0.4%.

Qatar tightened COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday, ordering the closure of leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools and for shopping malls to operate at a reduced capacity of 30%, while cinemas would run at 20% capacity. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index ended flat.

(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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