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DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday on hopes the Omicron coronavirus variant’s symptoms prove mostly mild and have a less damaging economic impact.

Reports in South Africa said Omicron cases there had only shown mild symptoms and the top US infectious disease official told broadcaster CNN that so far “It does not look like there’s a great degree of severity”.

In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 2.6%, with Emirates Telecommunications Group rising for a ninth session in 10 to close 5% higher.

In November, the telecom operator signed an agreement to acquire online grocery delivery marketplace elGrocer DMCC. Omicron’s negative headlines receded a little and investors hope that its impact on the economy will be softer than initially feared, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

“At the same time, monetary policy tightening is expected to limit the development of inflation which has become a major concern.”

Dubai’s main share index climbed 2.4%, with most of the stocks on the index in the black including Dubai Financial Market, which jumped 11%.

The Dubai government has announced plans for 10 state-backed companies to be listed as part of plans to boost activity on the local bourse.

The listing plans are aimed at making Dubai a more competitive market against bigger bourses in the region, such as those in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Abu Dhabi, that are seeing larger listings and strong liquidity.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index dropped 1.1%, dragged down by a 5.3% fall in Saudi Telecom Company (STC). The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is selling a 5.01% stake in STC through a secondary share offering, STC said on Sunday.

PIF plans to sell 100.2 million shares at a price range of 100 riyals to 116 riyals per share, potentially raising as much as 11.623 billion riyals ($3.10 billion) at the top end of the range. Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index added 1%, gaining for a fourth session in five.

SAUDI ARABIA fell 1.1% to 11,021

ABU DHABI gained 2.6% to 8,999

DUBAI rose 2.4% to 3,162

QATAR closed flat at 11,582

EGYPT added 1% to 11,515

BAHRAIN was up 0.2% to 1,772

OMAN lost 0.9% to 3,969

KUWAIT ended flat at 7,573.

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