- Dubai falls for fifth session in six.
- NCB best performer on Saudi benchmark.
- Egypt logs best day in three weeks.
The Dubai stock market weakened on Wednesday, the benchmark's fifth fall in the last six sessions, while Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia eked out marginal gains as sentiment was mixed in the wider Gulf region.
Dubai, the trade and tourism hub in the Middle East, declined 0.6% as a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates further hamper the emirate's recovery hopes despite the country's fast vaccination rate.
Travel and tourism was the only sector to contract as Dubai's non-oil private sector expanded for the second consecutive month in January, although at a marginal pace that was a fraction slower than the previous month, an IHS Markit survey showed.
Logistics firm Aramex was the worst performer on the Dubai benchmark, shedding 4.8%, as it reported a near 43% fall in annual profit.
Elsewhere, the Abu Dhabi main index edged up about 0.1% for its second straight session of gains.
Real estate stock Aldar Properties firmed 1.4%, while Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank gained 0.6%.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index inched up 0.1%. The kingdom's biggest lender National Commercial Bank (NCB) jumped 3.7% after it reported higher-than-expected full year profit.
NCB posted a net profit of 11.44 billion riyals ($3.05 billion) in the year that ended on Dec. 31, compared to 11.40 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier. Separately, Saudi Arabia's economy shrank by 3.8% in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, preliminary government data showed on Wednesday, but it grew 2.8% on a quarterly basis.
Qatar's benchmark index bounced back from previous session's losses to finish in the positive territory, tacking on 0.8%.
Industries Qatar was the top gainer in the Qatari index, putting on 3.3%.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index firmed 0.9% for its best day in three weeks.
Electronic payment network provider Fawry For Banking Technology And Electronic Payment was the best performer in the index, adding 4.4%.