Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets little changed in early trade

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged up 0.1%

  
Saudi traders are seen as they monitor stock information at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 15, 2020.

Saudi traders are seen as they monitor stock information at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 15, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Major stock markets in the Gulf were little changed early on Monday as the absence of fresh catalysts kept investors on the sidelines, with financial shares supporting the Saudi index.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 0.6% increase in Al Rajhi Bank after investment bank EFG Hermes raised its price target to 89 riyals ($23.73) from 73 riyals.

"We underestimated Rajhi's success in gaining ground in mortgages and the robust mortgage growth in the Kingdom," EFG Hermes said in a report.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco retreated 1.1%, on course to end two straight sessions of gains.

Aramco's debt-to-equity ratio more than doubled to 55% in 2020 from a year before, it said in a report, after the group kept a pledge to deliver a $75 billion dividend to support state coffers despite a slide in profits.

Separately, Saudi Arabia presented a new peace initiative on Monday to end the war in Yemen, including a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links, but its Houthi enemies said the offer did not appear to go far enough to lift a blockade.

Dubai's main share index added 0.2%, bolstered by a 1.8% rise in top lender Emirates NBD.

In Qatar, the benchmark lost 0.2%, hit by a 0.8% fall in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar and a 2.3% decline in Qatar Insurance Company.

Elsewhere, the Abu Dhabi index traded flat.

($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath) ((shamsuddin.mohd@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497252;))


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