Saudi Arabian stocks dropped for a fourth day running as investors fear that virus-related restrictions will delay the economic recovery, while other Gulf stocks pulled back from a recent rally.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.9 per cent to 8,543 points in what was its fourth straight session of losses.
The recent rally in some major Gulf markets has bypassed the kingdom as it extended the virus-related restrictions for its citizens and banned nationals of 20 countries from entering the country as a way to combat the novel coronavirus. The kingdom took these measures as it ran into short supply of vaccines stoking investor fears about the long road ahead for its economy to stage a turnaround.
Banks in red
Banking stocks were the biggest drag with National Commercial Bank retreating 2.1 per cent to 42.3 Saudi riyals a share, while Banque Saudi Fransi shed 3.1 per cent to close at 31 riyals a share. The two lenders are trading in the red for the year with pandemic pressure keeping the investors away.
Al Rajhi Bank, however, rose 0.3 per cent to 71.7 riyals after its full-year net profit increased 4.3 per cent. Saudi Arabian Mining Company gained 1.6 per cent to 41.2 riyals as its annual loss decreased by 71.7 per cent on the back of increase in the sales volume of its products.
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange slipped 0.4 per cent to 5,675 points after gaining in the last two sessions. Banking stocks led the losses with the heavyweight lender First Abu Dhabi Bank shedding 0.9 per cent. National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah dropped 3.8 per cent after reporting a 54 per cent plunge in its full-year net profit and as the lender cut back on the dividends by half.
Dubai Financial Market edged down 0.4 per cent to 2,713 points with its top lender Emirates NBD retreating 1.3 per cent to trade at Dh11.7 a share. The stock exchange operator Dubai Financial Market Company slumped 4.8 per cent to its worst single-day performance after it decided not to pay out any full-year dividends despite posting a 14 per cent rise in the profit.
Industrials overpower telcos
Qatar Exchange slipped 0.4 per cent giving up early gains triggered by the telco stocks after Vodafone Qatar posted a 29 per cent jump in its full-year net profit. But industrial stocks dropped stealing the show from phone operators, with Industries Qatar shedding 1.8 per cent to 12 Qatari riyals.
Kuwait premier index declined 0.9 per cent to 6,225 points, its biggest single-day fall this year with 19 of 20 stocks pointing lower. The drop marks its third straight and comes after the rating agency Fitch downgraded Wednesday its outlook on the country's sovereign debt rating to negative from stable, citing near-term liquidity risks.
Court order weighs
Oman's 30-company index fell 0.5 per cent to 3,604 points with Galfar Engineering and Contracting plunging 8.2 per cent to 0.05 Omani rial. The firm announced a court decision which will impact its financials by around 21 million rials.