Mideast Stocks: Saudi leads major Gulf markets higher

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.5%


Major stock markets in the Gulf rose in early trade on Sunday amid strong oil prices, with the Saudi index outperforming the region as the country eased coronavirus curbs.

The kingdom is rolling back COVID-19 restrictions from Oct. 17 in response to a sharp drop in daily infections and a considerable development in vaccinations.  The authorities also cancelled curbs on fully vaccinated people at closed venues, restaurants and cinemas, and on transportation.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.5%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.5%, while Jabal Omar Development, one of Saudi Arabia's largest-listed property developers, advanced 2.7%.

Saudi non-oil exports were up 37% to 125.3 billion riyals ($33.4 million) in the first half of 2021, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

Oil prices settled at a three-year high above $85 a barrel on Friday, boosted by forecasts of a supply deficit in the next few months as the easing of coronavirus-related travel restrictions spurs demand. 

In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.3%, supported by a 2.3% rise in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and a 0.2% increase in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC) plans to list subsidiary Multiply, a holding company that invests in tech-focused businesses, on Abu Dhabi's main stock market this year, IHC's chief executive said. 

Shares of IHC were flat.

Dubai's main share index rose 0.3%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties up 0.5% and its unit Emaar Malls climbing 2.1%.

UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said the oil-rich Gulf is continuing to invest in the energy sector to meet growing demand and ensure stability in global markets. 

The Qatari benchmark was up 0.3%, led by a 0.7% rise in Qatar National Bank and a 0.4% gain in Vodafone Qatar as the telecom firm reported a strong nine-month profit. 

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

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