Markets show mixed results in the Gulf on Middle East pressure
Gulf markets steadied yesterday even as investors remained cautious amid a prolonged Israeli air raid on the Gaza Strip, while Egypt recovered after reaching a preliminary loan deal for $4.8 billion with the International Monetary Fund.
Bahrain All-Share Index gained 0.3 per cent to 1,040 points.
Saudi Arabia's index, the largest Gulf market, ended at a five-week low, although bourse selling pressure eased following a sustained slump. The kingdom's index eased 0.07pc, its ninth straight decline.
Insurance stocks rallied, with the sector's index closing 1.1pc higher. The sector, which constitutes only a small part of total market capitalisation, dominates trade, signalling nervous investors are looking beyond bluechip stocks for short-term gains.
"There is no catalyst in the market and people are going into speculative names," said Mahmoud Akbar, a banking analyst at NCB Capital in Riyadh. "Most of the sentiment is driven by the conflict in Gaza and there's nothing encouraging in the overall picture either." The UN chief called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip yesterday and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to the region with a message that escalation of the week-long conflict was in nobody's interest.
Saudi's petrochemical index shed 0.3pc. Yanbu National Petrochemical fell 1.6pc, Saudi Arabian Fertilisers slipped 0.8pc and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical declined 0.8pc.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's index picked up from Monday's seven-week low on bargain hunting. The index gained 0.8pc.
Emaar Properties, the largest developer, rose 2.2pc, National Central Cooling (Tabreed) gained 3.4pc and mortgage lender Tamweel climbed 4.3pc.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark ended flat, while Qatar's measure gained 0.2pc, up for a second session since Sunday's three-month low.
In Egypt, the bourse recovered sharp early-session losses after the country reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan, a step seen as vital to shoring up the nation's finances.
The index eased 0.07pc to its lowest close since August 30, recovering 112 points from an early-session drop.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's measure gained 0.5pc to a one-week high as investors' risk appetite returned.
"The market is absorbing the political instability...there is continued support from the emir's comments on improving the economy," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.