UAE stock markets outperformed their regional peers on Monday riding high on banking and real estate, while Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slipped as the kingdom extended virus-related restrictions.
Dubai Financial Market surged 1.6 per cent to reverse all of its losses from Sunday, and in fact ended the day 8.2 per cent up so far this year making it one of top performing markets in the world. Dubai stocks opened 2021 on a strong footing, posting gains for first three consecutive weeks, as investors pinned their hopes on swift recovery enabled by efficient vaccine rollout.
But the rally seemed to be peter out last week, when it made the first weekly losses of the year as doubts began to take hold about a quick turnaround for the global economy after new variants of the coronavirus kept surfacing. Monday's surge on DFM thus is perfectly timed to show the rally is still on.
Property gets that push
Emaar Properties pushed back 3.5 per cent to produce its second best single-day performance. Its subsidiaries - Emaar Development and Emaar Malls - also rose 3.5 and 3.4 per cent, respectively.
Banking stocks did not lag as Dubai Islamic Bank gained 1.2 per cent and Emirates NBD 0.4 per cent.
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange rose 0.7 per cent after trading in the red in the last two sessions. Heavyweight lender First Abu Dhabi Bank ticked 0.7 per cent up and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank's price adding 1.2 per cent.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank eked out meagre gains and edged up 0.2 per cent as it reported better-than-expected results, but, unlike First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates NBD, it announced lower full-year dividends than it paid out a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, dropped 0.6 per cent as the kingdom extended the travel ban for citizens amid delayed shipments of coronavirus vaccines. The index has underperformed regional peers by giving up all the gains, and is now in the red. It has traded lower in all but three sessions since January 14.
The bearish mood was seen across sectors with energy weighing the most. Saudi Aramco retreated 1.4 per cent as it began voluntary cuts by 1 million barrels per day that Saudi earlier announced for February and March.
Others to fall were Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic), which shed 0.8 per cent, and Saudi Telecom, 1.6 per cent.
Qatar Exchange flatlined with banking and industrial stocks pulling the index in opposite directions. Qatar Islamic Bank rose 2.4 per cent, while Industries Qatar fell 0.8 per cent. Bahrain shares traded up 0.3 per cent with Ahli United Bank gaining 1.1 per cent.
Kuwait's premier index edged back 0.2 per cent, driven by a 0.7 per cent decline in National Bank of Kuwait. Banks were also a drag on Oman's 30-company index, which slipped 0.1 per cent. Bank Muscat and Bank Nizwa dropped 1 and 2 per cent, respectively.