Oil price gains are what's driving sentiments on Saudi stock markets. Can this rally last? Image Credit: AFP

Saudi stocks retained their momentum, prodded by oil prices now at a 13-month high, while UAE markets were feeling the buzz around banking stocks.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index closed 1 per cent up to 8,893 points from a fourth straight day of gains. National Commercial Bank traded 1.5 per cent higher to SR43.4 and Samba Financial Group pitched in with 2.6 per cent to SR31.2 after the Capital Market Authority approved NCB's request to increase its capital as part of merger with Samba. (The banks had entered into a binding merger agreement in October to create a combined entity with a substantial SR837 billion in assets.)

Capital gains

Anaam International Holding Group shot up 10 per cent to SR102. It plans to raise SR210 million through a rights issue aimed to finance future plans. Al Yamamah Steel Industries rose 1 per cent after reporting SR42.7 million in fourth-quarter profits versus SR7.6 million in losses suffered for the corresponding quarter last year.

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Banks lead

Dubai Financial Market rose as much as 0.8 per cent at its intra-day peak before stepping back to finish 0.2 per cent higher for the day. Financial stocks led the gains with Emirates NBD climbing 2.2 per cent - the most since January 28, to close at Dh11.6. The bank's rebound followed four sessions of flat or negative performance caused as regional curbs on social and commercial activities overshadowed the rally triggered by the lender's latest earnings that topped market expectations.

Theme parks operator DXB Entertainments gained 2.5 per cent ahead of its Full results. But du dropped 3.6 per cent to Dh6.5 in what was its sharpest single-day decline since August after full-year profits dropped and dividends were slashed.

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange gave up most of the early gains to close up by 0.1 per cent. Major banks rose with First Abu Dhabi advancing 0.8 per cent to Dh15, while Abu Dhabi Commercial and Abu Dhabi Islamic inched higher by 0.6 per cent to trade at Dh6.7 and Dh4.9, respectively.

Slipping up

Qatar Exchange lost 0.5 per cent to trade at 10,445 points under selling pressure in banking and industrial stocks. Doha Bank fell 1.4 per cent to QR2.3 after a 7 per cent drop in full-year net profit. Industries Qatar edged back 0.4 per cent to close at QR11.9 as 2020 profits plunged 23 per cent prompting it to cut down dividends to QR0.33 from QR0.4.

Oman's 30-company index slipped 0.3 per cent to 3,566 points, pulled lower by its lenders that have recently been trading under pressure from subdued earnings and exposure to a prominent defaulting firm.