Mideast Stocks: Most log monthly gains on COVID-19 vaccine optimism

Saudi shares register best month in four years

Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi and Dubai shares ended higher on Friday, with most markets recording monthly gains thanks to optimism that the progress in COVID-19 vaccine development would help global economies recover at a quicker pace than initially anticipated.

Financial markets worldwide have gained in most sessions after U.S. drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, and Britain's AstraZeneca  released positive trial data on their vaccine candidates. Oil prices, however, tumbled on uncertainty about whether OPEC+ would agree to extend large output cuts at talks this week. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index finished 0.4% higher. Lender Al-Rajhi Bank and oil behemoth Saudi Aramco were the top gainers on the index, putting on 1% and 0.7%, respectively.

The Saudi benchmark also powered to a monthly gain of 10.6%, its biggest in four years.

Top oil exporter Saudi is expected to raise its official selling prices for Asian buyers in January, tracking stronger benchmark prices as some refiners increase output to meet higher winter demand, a Reuters survey showed. 

The Abu Dhabi index closed down 0.4%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank declining 1.3% and 2.1%, respectively.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark, which has mostly underperformed its Gulf peers in November, declined 0.4% in the month.

Dubai's main share index finished 0.8% higher, buoyed by lender Emirates NBD, which gained 5.8%.

The benchmark registered a monthly gain of 10.6%, marking its best month since April.

The markets in the United Arab Emirates are closed for the rest of the trading week for holidays.

The Qatar benchmark index concluded trading 0.2% lower, with Qatar National Bank declining 1.9%.

The index but posted a monthly gain of nearly 6% to cap its best month since April.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's benchmark shed 0.6%, dragged by Cleopatra Hospital and Madinet Nasr for Housing & Development, which declined 3.8% and 3.1%, respectively.

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

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