Higher oil prices push Saudi index up, while Egypt declines

(Reuters) - Gulf markets ended mostly higher on Tuesday, with Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index leading gains, while Egypt’s blue-chip index slid more than 1 percent.

FILE PHOTO: Investors walk under a stock index board at the Dubai Financial Market in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

The Saudi index closed 0.8% higher, its biggest daily percentage gain in over a week, buoyed by higher oil prices.

The rise in crude prices was underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down production. [O/R]

Financial stocks boosted the index, with Al Rajhi Bank jumping 4% and National Commercial Bank, the country’s largest lender, advancing 1.8%.

Dubai’s main share index snapped five sessions of losses to end marginally higher at 0.2%, bolstered by a 3% rise in Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company.

During the day the index rose more than 1%.

“The optimism over the drop in coronavirus cases in the country is playing a good role in reviving investors’ appetite,” said Wael Makarem, market analyst at

The Abu Dhabi index mirrored Dubai, closing up about 0.2%, with Emirates Telecommunications Group (Etisalat) gaining nearly 1% after its board recommended a total dividend of 1.2 dirhams per share for 2020.

Bucking the trend, the Qatari index fell for the fifth consecutive session to end 0.6% lower.

Qatar National Bank, the Gulf’s largest lender by assets, reversed early gains and dropped 3.4%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue chip index fell more than 1%, after rising for the past two sessions.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey