UAE and other GCC stock markets advanced in step with their banking stocks, which rallied after a series of upbeat first-quarter earnings.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index traded 0.9 per cent higher at 10,231 points with financial stocks leading the gains. Al Jazira Bank surged 8.9 per cent after first-quarter profits jumped 77 per cent to SR321.6 million. The kingdom's largest lender - newly created Saudi National Bank - inched up around 1 per cent after posting a 20 per cent spike in the bottom-line. Saudi banks have outperformed so far in announcing gains for the first three months of the year.
Rallying for a third day
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange closed at 6,146 points, settling for a 0.5 per cent increase for the day after a choppy trading swung the index between ups and downs. Etisalat had weighed down the index earlier in the day but pulled back to end 0.6 per cent higher and giving a much needed boost to the gauge that clocked its third consecutive rise.
But as a group, it was the bank pack propelling the index higher, with blue-chip lenders helping paint a rosy picture of how sectoral peers might might perform.
Back into gains
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank scaled 2.3 per cent up in what was its biggest single-day spike year-to-date, helping the stock return to positive territory. The upside followed a more than five-fold surge in the lender's first-quarter profits that stemmed mainly from significantly watered-down impairment charges as it recovered from bad debt exposure.
Dubai Financial Market was up 0.7 per cent to 2,646 points with biggest push coming from Emirates NBD clawing back intra-day losses. The market also received crucial support from property stocks with Emaar Properties, Emaar Development and Damac all gaining. Telco du also pulled back from the red ahead of announcing first-quarter results.
Banks lend support
Banks led the advances even in Qatar with Qatar Commercial Bank trading on top of the gainers' list by surging 3.4 per cent. Investors embraced the stock after it posted a near 50 per cent jump in quarterly profit. Industries Qatar edged up as markets awaited its results, while Qatar Navigation ticked higher on healthier bottom-line and approval by the board for full potential foreign ownership of the stock.