Mideast Stocks: UAE markets lead gains, Saudi Arabia declines

Saudi index logs losses in 4 of last 5 sessions

  
Image used for illustrative purposes only. Investors looks at stock exchange information at the Dubai Financial Market .

Image used for illustrative purposes only. Investors looks at stock exchange information at the Dubai Financial Market .

REUTERS/Mosab Omar

The markets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) finished higher on Monday, helped by financial and real estate stocks, while Saudi shares fell for a second straight session.

Dubai's main share index started the month on a high note, putting on 1.6%, for the benchmark's first session of gains in three.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties was the best performer, jumping 3.5%, while sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank added 1.2%.

Dubai's house prices are expected to fall at a slower pace this year and the next than previously thought, as hopes for a successful vaccine rollout and an economic recovery boost confidence in the sector, a Reuters poll showed. 

Abu Dhabi, the other major UAE market, gained 0.7%, breaking a two-session losing run in the process.

The gains in the benchmark were helped primarily by a 0.7% increase in the UAE's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

Real estate stock Aldar Properties and telecoms major Etisalat also contributed to the gains, tacking on 3.2% and 0.6%, respectively.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank added 0.2% as it reported a better-than-expected 2020 profit of 3.81 billion dirhams ($1.04 billion), compared with analysts' estimate of 3.46 billion dirhams, according to Refinitiv data. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index retreated 0.6%, the benchmark's fourth fall in the past five sessions, with index heavyweight Al-Rajhi Bank declining 0.4%.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to lower its official selling prices for Asian buyers in March, the first cut in three months, tracking falling benchmark prices and coronavirus-induced demand weakness, a Reuters survey showed on Friday.

Elsewhere, in Qatar, the index ended the session flat.

Qatar Islamic Bank was the best performer in the index, adding 2.4%, while the losses were led by Qatar National Bank, which slipped 2.3%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index put on 0.4%, bouncing back from the previous session's losses.

Egypt Kuwait Holding Cogained 3.3%, while real estate stock Palm Hill Developments added 7.5%.

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

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