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DUBAI: Stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday, with the Abu Dhabi index marking its best session in more than nine months, led by United Arab Emirates’ top lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank.

The Abu Dhabi index gained nearly 4% and the benchmark has risen in all but two sessions so far in the new year.

First Abu Dhabi Bank was the best performer on the benchmark, adding about 8%. Another bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, rose nearly 5%.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Finance has announced a 6 billion-dirham ($1.63 billion) supply chain financing initiative to support a variety of sectors, as a key initiative in its commitment to support small and medium enterprises.

The first phase of this initiative is in partnership with the National Health Insurance Co and First Abu Dhabi Bank, aiming to provide liquidity to healthcare SMEs.

Dubai’s main share index advanced 1.2%, led by a 1.5% gain in developer Emaar Properties and a 0.9% increase in the emirate’s biggest bank, Emirates NBD.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained 0.6%, with Saudi Telecom rising 5.4% to finish as the best performer.

Financial stocks also underpinned the gains, with Riyad Bank and Samba Financial Group tacking on 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively. Separately, Saudi Basic Industries Corp has hired NCB Capital to advise on a potential listing of its speciality chemicals business, an offering that could raise several hundred million dollars, three sources told Reuters. In Qatar, the main index finished little changed as a 1.3% gain in Industries Qatar was offset by losses in Qatar Islamic Bank, which finished 1.8% lower.

QIB reported a net profit of 3.07 billion riyals ($839.30 million) for the fiscal year 2020, up from 3.06 billion riyals a year earlier, but cut its 2020 dividend to 0.40 riyal per share from 0.525 riyal in 2019.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index ended the session little changed. Tobacco firm Eastern Co, which gained 0.7%, was the best performer in the index.

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