Gulf investors were cutting losses early Thursday, with banking stocks under heavy pressure. Image Credit: Reuters

The UAE and other Gulf stock markets dropped in early trade Thursday, much in line with how their global counterparts were performing. The pandemic numbers keep intruding on investor appetite for risk, after slower-than-expected roll out of vaccines in the US and Europe.

Dubai Financial Market fell 1.4 per cent, giving up all the gains it eked out on Wednesday. The forecast-beating results by top lender Emirates NBD had seen the stock rise 2.6 per cent on Wednesday, but then drop 1.7 per cent on Thursday. Other blue-chips such as Emaar and du also saw slips.

In fact, the decline was seen across sectors with banking and real estate being the biggest drags. Emaar Properties shed 2.3 per cent, while Dubai Islamic Bank erased 0.8 per cent.

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Fritter away gains

Abu Dhabi Securities also traded 0.7 per cent lower, with banking stocks down on the numbers. First Abu Dhabi Bank pulled back 1.1 per cent after rising 2.5 per cent Wednesday, when it reported its full-year results that topped most market expectations.

Other to fall were Aldar Properties, which lost 1.1 per cent, and telecom giant Etisalat, trimming 0.5 per cent.

Across markets, investor outlook was further clouded by new virus-related restrictions in China, raising concerns about the state of oil demand from the world's second biggest economy. Oil slipped 0.7 per cent at some point on Thursday, and bringing down Gulf stock markets with it.

This has in turn paved the way for pessimism surrounding the timing - and extent - of any turnaround for economies.

Results disappoint

Qatar Exchange's main index was down 0.8 per cent with Qatar Commercial Bank plunging 4.5 per cent to its biggest single-day drop since March last. The lender reported a near 36 per cent drop in its full-year results as net provisions for loans and advances increased 40.7 per cent in a year challenged by the health crisis.

The bank slashed dividend payout by half compared to a year earlier, with its Board of Directors recommending 0.1 Qatari riyal per share cash profit distribution amounting to 10 per cent of the nominal share value.

15-year low

Oman's 30-company index slipped 0.3 per cent, dragged down by National Bank of Oman. The bank slumped 7.5 per cent to fall deeper into negative territory after touching a over 15-year low in the last trading session.

The plunge comes after the lender announced on Wednesday that it would not distribute dividends for 2020, at a time when other financial companies had pledged payouts. The bank earlier this week also made public 63 million dirhams in its exposure to companies related to the defaulter firm Darvesh Group

Bahrain index moved 0.2 per cent lower with most stocks seeing little movement and GFH Financial Group shedding 1.7 per cent.