Saudi Arabian stocks extended their losses under selling pressure from banking blue-chips, while other GCC markets put on a lackluster performance ahead of first quarter earnings in the coming days.
Saudi Arabian benchmark index traded lower by 0.3 per cent at 9,908 points in what was its third straight day of losses. Financial stocks weighed the index more than other sectors with Al Rajhi Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi and Arab Bank heading lower. Chubb Arabia Cooperative Insurance dipped after its board said there would be no dividend handouts for last year.
Down on merger talks
Alahli Takaful sank 3.2 per cent after signing of a memorandum of understanding with Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance aimed at a potential merger. They did not state the amount Alahli Takaful will be valued at or what the number of shares its shareholders will get in Arabian Shield post-merger.
Dubai Financial Market retreated 0.3 per cent at 2,586 points, pushed back by real estate stocks. The index has mostly been on the rise in the last couple of weeks that helped it swing back to year-to-date gains. The upward trend was often led by the property shares as investors bet on a recovery for real estate once the pandemic has been taken under control.
But the recent rally has been occasionally interrupted as short-term investors seized on the opportunity to book profits. That led to a drop in share prices with nearly all property firms trading lower. Emaar Properties, Damac, Union Properties and Deyaar Development all drifted into red with the exception being Emaar Development that eked out 0.8 per cent in its third straight day of gains.
GCC's best performing market - Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange - climbed 0.4 per cent at 6,092 points with a large chunk coming from the banking stocks and Etisalat, which rallied 0.6 per cent. First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank outperformed as investors appeared hopeful about their ability to top the market expectations with their first-quarter results.
Qatar's main index dropped 0.6 per cent with 16 of its 20 stocks ending lower. The gauge is trading just fractionally up for the year in the absence of big cues to shore up the economy and private sector as is the case with other major GCC countries. However, Qatar National Bank climbed 0.7 per cent despite first-quarter profits shrinking by 7 per cent on taking a hit from higher provisions. While Qatar Islamic Bank slipped, it reported a rise in bottom-line figures. The duo look unable to catch up with market expectations.
Kuwait's premier index dipped 0.4 per cent at 6,542 points, having undergone intense selling pressure from its banking pack with Kuwait Finance House and Kuwait International Bank leading the losses. But its was financial stocks that pushed Oman's 30-company index higher with Bank Muscat and HSBC Oman Bank leading from the front.