Mideast Stocks: Qatar shares jump as investors cheer virus restrictions easing

Dubai index registers fourth weekly gain

Share prices are seen on an electronic display at the Doha Stock Exchange in Doha, Qatar.

Share prices are seen on an electronic display at the Doha Stock Exchange in Doha, Qatar.

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Major stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Thursday, with the Qatari index outperforming the region as the country is set to ease coronavirus restrictions.

The Gulf Arab state said on Wednesday that leisure and education centres and restaurants can reopen at limited capacity as of Friday under a phased easing of measures. 

The Qatari benchmark advanced 1.3%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory including petrochemical maker Industries Qatar.

Qatar said earlier this month that it would gradually lift coronavirus curbs in four phases, with the first phase on May 28 and the fourth on July 30.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.5%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 1.2%, while Saudi Basic Industries finished 1.6% higher.

Dubai's main share index fell 0.3%, hit by a 1.2% fall in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank and a 0.7% decrease in Emirates NBD Bank.

However, the index secured its fourth weekly gain followed by a recent rise in property shares and financial stocks.

House prices in Dubai are expected to rise for the first time in six years in 2021, supported by a swift vaccine rollout that has lifted hopes for economic recovery, a Reuters poll of property analysts showed. 

In Abu Dhabi, the index lost 0.3%, weighed down by a 8.2% slide in Abu Dhabi National Company for Distribution, the largest operator of petrol stations and convenience stores in the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said it raised $1.64 billion by issuing exchangeable bonds and additional shares to investors in its listed retail unit ADNOC Distribution on Wednesday. 

This could increase ADNOC Distribution's free float to 30%, it said.

Elsewhere, the Omani index shrugged off ongoing protests to nudge down 0.1%.

Citizens of Oman took the streets on Wednesday for a fourth day of demonstrations, braving a heavy security presence to demand that the country's ruler follow through on promises to create thousands of jobs. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index declined 1.2%, extending losses for a third straight session.

Exchange data on Thursday showed foreign investors as net sellers of Egyptian stocks.

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

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