DUBAI: Stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Sunday, with property shares driving the Dubai index higher while the Saudi bourse was hit by declines in financials.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index dropped 0.5%, with Saudi National Bank, the kingdom’s largest lender, losing 2.1%, while Riyad Bank retreated 2.8% after it reported a fall in quarterly earnings.
On Wednesday, the Saudi index gained sharply after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom had no plans to introduce income tax and that a decision last July to triple value-added tax (VAT) to 15% was temporary.
The country tripled VAT to offset the impact of lower oil revenue on state finances, a move that shocked the public and businesses who had been expecting more support from the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Dubai, the main share index concluded 0.7% higher, ending three sessions of losses.
Emaar Properties, the Dubai’s largest developer, advanced 3%, while its unit Emaar Malls added 3.3%.
The United Arab Emirates’ economy shrank 6.1% last year, the country’s statistics centre said on Sunday, citing preliminary data, as the coronavirus crisis hit several key sectors.
The economy is expected to grow 2.5% this year, the central bank said last month.
Among others, Dubai Investments, the diversified investment group, climbed 1.3% after the company reported a net profit of 123.8 million dirhams ($34 million) compared to a loss of 6.8 million dirhams a year earlier.
The Abu Dhabi index added 0.5%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country’s largest lender, rising 0.8%, while telecoms firm Etisalat gained 0.9% following an increase in first-quarter net profit.
The telecoms operator is also considering refinancing a 1.2 billion euro bond note ($1.44 billion) maturing in June.
New issuance would improve the Etisalat group’s financial flexibility and will be used for the repayment of the maturing bond, issued under Etisalat’s global medium term note “GMTN” programme.
In Qatar, the benchmark index eased 0.1%, hit by a 0.2% fall in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar. Egypt exchange was closed for a public holiday.