Mideast Stocks: Saudi leads Gulf markets higher ahead of Eid holidays

Air Arabia falls on weak Q1 earnings

Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Most major stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday in thin trade ahead of Eid al-Fitr holidays, with financials and petrochemical shares boosting the Saudi index.

The benchmark index gained 0.9%, with petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE climbing 2.5%, while Al Rajhi Bank added 0.5%.

The kingdom's economy shrank 3.3% in the first quarter from a year earlier, hit by oil output cuts, but the non-oil economy expanded 3.3%, recovering from the impact of the pandemic, flash government estimates showed on Monday.

The non-oil sector grew for the first time since the first quarter of 2020, the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia said in a statement.

In Dubai, the main share index finished 0.4% higher, with its top lender Emirates NBD rising 1.2% after investment bank J.P. Morgan Cazenove raised the target price of the bank to 14.15 dirhams with an upgrade to overweight.

Another stand-out was shopping centres operator Emaar Malls, which gained 1.5%.

Dubai's tourism chief last week said he was optimistic business and leisure travellers would return this year, though the pandemic made it difficult to predict how many. 

However, budget airliner Air Arabia lost 0.8% following a drop in its first-quarter earnings. 

The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.1%, hit by a 0.8% fall in First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender.

But, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Distribution advanced 2.7% after it reported a net profit of 630.7 million dirhams for the first quarter, up from 399.5 million dirhams a year earlier. 

In Qatar, the benchmark added 0.1%, helped by a 0.6% increase in Qatar National Bank.

The Gulf Arab state on Sunday decided on lifting coronavirus-related measures in four phases, starting the first phase on May 28 and the fourth on July 30, the state news agency said, citing a health ministry statement. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.4%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory, including Fawry Banking Technology and Electronic Payments.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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