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Markets

Major Gulf markets ease in early trade; Qatar gains

  • Qatar's benchmark index edged up 0.1%, helped by its banking shares, with the Gulf's largest lender Qatar National Bank rising 1.2%.
Published March 4, 2021

Most Gulf stock markets fell in early trade on Thursday, with the Dubai index pressured by its largest lender trading ex-dividend, although Qatar snapped two consecutive sessions of losses.

In Dubai, the index fell 1%, on course to end a five-session winning streak, dragged by a 2.6% slide in its top lender Emirates NBD.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties dropped 1.6%, a day after it said it was buying out minority shareholders of its shopping centre unit.

The United Arab Emirates' non-oil private sector expanded for the third consecutive month in February, though at a marginal pace, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit UAE Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which covers manufacturing and services, slipped to 50.6 in February from 51.2 in January, remaining just above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index eased 0.2%, ahead of an OPEC+ meet later in the day, with Al Rajhi Bank losing 0.3% and National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's largest lender, falling 0.8%.

OPEC sees a generally positive oil market outlook with last year's uncertainty easing, but downside risks caused by the pandemic persist, the group's secretary general and its experts said on Tuesday.

The market widely expects them to ease their production cuts, which were the deepest ever, by around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), with OPEC's leader, Saudi Arabia, ending its voluntary production cut of 1 million bpd.

Qatar's benchmark index edged up 0.1%, helped by its banking shares, with the Gulf's largest lender Qatar National Bank rising 1.2%.

Sentiment in Qatari banks remained upbeat following a Moody's report on Monday, which said lenders' profits would remain resilient for 2021.

However, the index's gains were capped by losses at Ooredoo Qatar, which was trading ex-dividend.

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