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DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Middle East ended higher on Sunday, with Qatar’s index leading the gains on a rise in financial shares, while Egypt closed lower.

Financial markets globally have been buoyed over the past two weeks by US drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna Inc releasing encouraging news on the effectiveness of their vaccine candidates against the coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index added 0.1%, with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services leaping 5.1% and real estate firm Jabal Omar Development adding 2.2%.

On Thursday, the acting information minister said the kingdom could review its VAT increase, which his driven up inflation, after the novel coronavirus pandemic comes to an end. That could spur an economic recovery.

Saudi Arabia tripled its value-added tax to 15% in July to offset the impact of lower oil revenue on state finances.

Dubai’s main share index rose 0.4%, supported by a 0.9% gain in Shariah-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank and a 1% increase in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.

The Abu Dhabi index closed 0.4% higher, buoyed by a 1.9% rise in the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

In Qatar, the index advanced 0.9%, with the Gulf’s largest lender Qatar National Bank jumping 4.4% and petrochemical firm Industries Qatar up 1.5%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index eased 0.4%, hurt by a 0.6% fall in Commercial International Bank.—Reuters