Saudi shares ended the week lower on Thursday, tracking weaker oil prices, to post their first weekly loss in five, while other Gulf markets rose on optimism about the latest coronavirus vaccine developments.
Oil prices fell as producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, locked horns over the need to extend record production cuts set in place in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, are meeting on Thursday over 2021 policies after earlier talks produced no compromise on how to tackle weak oil demand. u
The Saudi benchmark fell 0.2%, extending losses for a third consecutive session after a stellar November, its best month in four years. For the week, the blue-chip index retreated 0.2%.
Al-Rajhi Bank and Riyad Bank lost about 1% and 1.3%, respectively, while healthcare firm Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group Co shed about 1.6%.
The Dubai and Abu Dhabi markets were shut for three straight days for holidays this week and will reopen on Sunday.
Meanwhile, other regional markets extended gains after Britain on Wednesday became the first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to start immunisation next week.
In Qatar, the benchmark closed 0.7% higher, with Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank adding 1.7% and 0.8%, respectively. The benchmark posted a weekly gain of 1.7%.
The Kuwait benchmark finished the last session of the week with a 1.9% gain but registered a weekly loss of 0.5%.
Educational service firm Human Soft Holding Co was the top performer, gaining nearly 5%.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed about 0.1% lower.
Commercial International Bank shed 0.4%, while Oriental Weaves Carpet Co was the top gainer in the index, adding more than 5%.
Egypt's non-oil private sector activity growth slowed in November and consumer confidence dropped to its lowest in nearly a decade on worries about a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, a survey showed.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +91 (0)8061822683;))