Mideast Stocks: UAE markets end lower as COVID-19 cases surge; Saudi muted

Saudi Arabian benchmark registers weekly losses

An investor looks up at electronic display boards at the Dubai International Financial Market, March 21, 2010.

An investor looks up at electronic display boards at the Dubai International Financial Market, March 21, 2010.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Major markets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ended lower on Thursday as rising coronavirus cases in the country dented sentiment, although Dubai and Abu Dhabi shares notched weekly gains.

Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trade hub. 

Daily cases in the UAE hit a record 3,506 on Wednesday, the highest in the Gulf Arab region where daily tallies in each of the other five states have fallen below 500.

Among the Gulf Cooperation Council members, the UAE and Bahrain feature among countries with high vaccination rates globally.

In Dubai, the main share index retreated 2%, its first fall in four sessions.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties was the worst performer on the benchmark, shedding 3.6%, while Dubai's biggest bank Emirates NBD fell nearly 3%.

The index, however, gained 1.2% for the week.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark fell 1.1%, snapping a four-day winning streak, with telecoms major Emirates Telecommunications losing 3.2%.

UAE's largest lender and index heavyweight, First Abu Dhabi Ban, lost 0.8%, while real estate firm Aldar Properties slipped 2.8%.

The index's losses, however, were capped by gains at aquaculture firm International Holding , which jumped about 6%, after it reported a sharp rise in 2020 profit. 

The Abu Dhabi benchmark added 6.5% for the week, its best weekly performance since April last year.

The benchmark indexI in Saudi Arabia finished little changed on the day, en route to a 0.3% weekly loss.

Saudi British Bank was the best index performer during the session, gaining 1.5%, while healthcare firm Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group Co featured among top losers, shedding 1.2%

In Qatar, the index eased 0.6%, pulled down primarily by financial stocks, and posted a weekly loss of 1.6%.

The Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank fell about 1% each.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index gained 0.5%, helped by a nearly 1% gain in Commercial International Bank (CIB), the country's largest private bank.

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

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