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Major Gulf markets end mixed; financials weigh on Saudi


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(Reuters) – Major stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Sunday, with the Saudi index pressured by financial shares amid falling oil prices, while Dubai was supported by property stocks.

FILE PHOTO: A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Oil prices settled lower on Friday and lost around 2% on the week as production increases and renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in some countries offset optimism about a recovery in fuel demand. [O/R]

Moves in oil prices are a key catalyst for the Gulf region’s financial markets.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index declined 0.7%, hit by a 1.9% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 2% slide in Saudi National Bank.

Elsewhere, Saudi Aramco eased 0.1%, despite the company agreeing a $12.4 billion deal to sell a stake in its pipelines.

In Dubai, the main share index finished 0.4% higher, led by a 1.9% rise in Emaar Properties and a 2.3% increase in its unit Emaar Malls.

The managing director of Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest listed real estate developer, on Thursday said the company achieved first-quarter sales of 6 billion dirhams ($1.63 billion), Al Arabiya reported.

Mohamed Alabbar told the Saudi news outlet this was against sales of 2.5 billion dirhams in the same period last year. He said the numbers were promising and the property market has seen increased demand, particularly for villas, townhouses and homes with sea views.

In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.2%, helped by a 0.7% increase in telecoms group Etisalat and 0.1% gain in the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Separately, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is considering listing its drilling business on the local stock market, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

The state oil group said its drilling company is the largest in the Middle East.

The Qatari index gained 0.2%, with petrochemical company Industries Qatar rising 1.4%, while Qatar National Bank (QNB) was up 0.2%.

After trading hours, QNB, the biggest lender in the Gulf, reported its first quarter net profit of 3.3 billion riyals, ($906.32 million) down by 7% from a year earlier as it booked 1.4 billion riyals in “precautionary” loan-loss provisions.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index rose 0.9%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory.

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman

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