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Markets

Major Gulf markets flat in early trade, Dubai extends gains

  • The Abu Dhabi benchmark index traded flat, with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) gaining 0.2% and telecoms firm Etisalat falling 0.3%.
Published December 17, 2020

Most major stock markets in the Gulf were little changed in early trade on Thursday, with the Dubai index on track to extend gains for a second straight session.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.3%, with petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries rising 1.6%, while Al Rajhi Bank was up 0.3%.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf regions' financial markets, climbed to a nine-month high after government data showed a fall in US crude stockpiles last week, while progress towards a US fiscal stimulus deal and strong Asian demand also buoyed prices.

Brent crude futures rose 72 cents, or 1.4%, to $51.80 a barrel at 0744 GMT.

However, oil giant Saudi Aramco eased 0.3%.

Aramco, whose dividend remains vital to helping Saudi Arabia contain a huge deficit, may have to sell assets and borrow more to fulfil its fiscal role amid uncertainty in oil prices, Reuters reported, citing market specialists.

Though its profits plummeted this year as oil prices tumbled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is sticking to a promised $75 billion annual dividend that will go almost entirely to the government.

Dubai's main share index edged up 0.4%, with Dubai Investments and Emirates NBD Bank rising 2.1% and 0.9%, respectively.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark index traded flat, with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) gaining 0.2% and telecoms firm Etisalat falling 0.3%.

On Wednesday, FAB, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, announced opening of its representative office in Jakarta, Indonesia to support MENA-Indonesia trade and investment.

The Qatari index was also unchanged in early trade.

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