Mideast Stocks: Saudi shares firm as major Gulf markets end mixed

In Dubai, the main share index eased 0.2%

  
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

Saudi Arabia's stock market recouped earlier losses to end higher on Monday, led by gains in financial shares, while other major Gulf markets were mixed.

Saudi shares had eased earlier following reports that Yemen's Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of the kingdom's oil industry on Sunday, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports. Riyadh called the attack a failed assault on global energy security. 

"While the Houthi drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities, including the Ras Tanura facility, did not result in any production outages, they underscored just how dangerous the security environment remains in the region," said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy and MENA Research at RBC Capital Markets.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index finished 0.3% higher, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 2% and Samba Financial Group  climbing 1.4%.

Meanwhile, oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf region's financial markets, climbed above $70 a barrel for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis. 

Last week, investors were surprised that the kingdom had decided to maintain its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day through April even after the oil price rally of the past two months as COVID-19 vaccination programmes gained pace around the globe.

In Dubai, the main share index eased 0.2%, hit by a 1.9% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 1.1% retreat in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.

The Abu Dhabi index closed 0.1% lower, driven down by a 1.6% drop in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Qatar's benchmark share index, which traded after a session's break, gained 0.5%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar advancing 2.2%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.9%, with the country's largest lender Commercial International Bank Egypt falling 0.9%.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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