Dubai leads gains as markets cheer vaccine news

(Reuters) - Major Gulf markets ended higher on Monday, as further encouraging news on the COVID-19 vaccine boosted investor sentiment, spurring optimism over a faster-than-expected global economic recovery.

FILE PHOTO: Traders wait at the Bahrain Bourse after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, in Manama, Bahrain, November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine could be around 90% effective, giving the world another weapon to fight the global pandemic and potentially cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca is the third major trial to report success after U.S.-based Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with Germany’s BioNTech SE,, propelling financial markets worldwide.

Oil prices, a vital catalyst for financial markets in the Gulf region, rose more than 1%, extending last week’s gains as traders eyed a recovery in demand due to successful vaccine trials. [O/R]

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index advanced for a second straight session, concluding 0.3% higher.

Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group Co was the top gainer on the index, gaining 2.3%, while oil behemoth and index heavyweight Saudi Aramco put on 0.6%.

Dubai’s main share index advanced sharply to close 1.3% higher, with the emirate’s largest lender Emirates NBD adding 2.4%, while Dubai Ismalic Bank tacked on nearly a percent.

Dubai said the economic growth rate could increase by up to 1% because of plans by the United Arab Emirates to extend to more categories a “golden” visa system which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state.

The Abu Dhabi index finished 0.8% higher, with telecom firm Etisalat gaining 2.4%, while real estate firm Aldar Properties put on 1.7%.

Elsewhere, the Qatar index added 1.2%, buoyed by finance stocks Qatar Islamic Bank and Commercial Bank, which gained 3.3% and 4.8%, respectively.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index closed 0.3% higher, with property firm Talat Mostafa Group Holding jumping 4.9%, while Sixth of October Development and Investment Co gained over 5%.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru, Editing by Nick Zieminski