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Saudi Arabian stocks closed higher on Sunday with oil giant Saudi Aramco rebounding from earlier losses as investors sounded upbeat about 2021 oil demand outlook. Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: Saudi Arabian stocks closed higher on Sunday with oil giant Saudi Aramco rebounding from earlier losses as investors sounded upbeat about 2021 oil demand outlook.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged up 0.1 per cent at 9,499 points. Saudi Aramco dropped 0.6 per cent at some point during the session before climbing back to end the day higher by the same percentage. Its full-year profits plunged nearly 44 per cent as crude oil prices and sales volume bore the brunt in the coronavirus- rattled year.

But the stock got uplifted after its chief executive forecast a higher oil demand in 2021, citing demand approaching pre-pandemic levels in China while other economies opening up on the back of inoculation drive.

Earnings impetus

Saudi insurer Tawuniya picked up 2.1 per cent, supported by improved full-year profits before Zakat, which jumped 28 per cent to SR514.5 million as its net underwriting income accelerated by 31 per cent. The results received further boost from increased net earned premiums and decreased net claims incurred.

Another insurance firm CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance eked out 2 per cent, again lifted by a better 2020 performance. The annual profit added more than 15 per cent to SR40.8 million, which the firm attributed to reduced net claims and reversal of allowance for doubtful debts. What further helped it during the last year was a pickup in reinsurance commission income.

However, most other GCC markets slipped into red with Dubai Financial Market pointing lower by 0.8 per cent to close at 2,584 points. Blue-chip stocks, Emirates NBD and Emaar Properties, dropped striking biggest blow to the index. The bearish run followed similar mood that gripped global markets over the weekend as investments appeared heading towards bonds amid the beefed-up yields.

Blue-chips lag

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange followed Dubai market lower, edging back 0.2 per cent at 5,723 points. Banking stocks led the losses as First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank all got into the trap of bears.

On the other hand, there were also stocks trading higher such as National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, Bank of Sharjah, RAK Properties and Sharjah Cement but they failed to rally the whole index due to their relative light weight on the market.

In Qatar, industrial and financial stocks led the Qatar Exchange lower by 0.9 per cent, thereby underperforming all other GCC markets. The index closed at 10,218 points weighed down by Industries Qatar, Qatar Commercial Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank.