Mideast Stocks: Oil buoys Saudi market, ex-dividend stocks hurt Abu Dhabi

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index added 1.2%


Saudi Arabia's stock market extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, helped by the rise in oil prices, while the Abu Dhabi index was pressured by firms trading ex-dividend.

Brent was up 7.2%, or $1.63, at $24.17 a barrel by 0731 GMT, boosted by signs that the U.S. crude glut is easing and fuel demand battered by COVID-19 restrictions is starting to pick up. O/R

On Wednesday, Brent settled at $22.54 a barrel, up $2.08, or 10.2%.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index added 1.2%, led by a 2% gain in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.6% increase in oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Elsewhere, food manufacturer and distributor Halwani Brothers soared 10% after it reported a sharp rise in first-quarter net profit.

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

The Abu Dhabi index dropped 0.7%, driven down by a 2.3% fall in telecoms firm Etisalat and a 4.9% slide in energy firm Dana Gas as the duo traded ex-dividend.

In Dubai, the index gained 0.6%, with Dubai Islamic Bank rising 2.2%. The sharia-compliant lender recorded a net profit of 1.11 billion dirhams ($302.2 million) in the first quarter, down from 1.355 billion dirhams a year ago.

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

Qatar's index traded 0.8% higher, with most of the stocks on the index in positive territory including petrochemical firm Industries Qatar, which advanced 4.5%.

The Gulf state's cabinet has decided to extend several measures to stem the spread of coronavirus including the reduction of employees at workplaces in the government and private sectors, state news agency QNA said on Thursday.

($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)

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

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