Gulf markets gain on steady oil, receding bank fears
March 30 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets opened slightly up on Thursday, tracking Asian peers and oil prices higher, helped by improving investor sentiment as concerns over a recent banking sector crisis eased.
Oil prices — a key catalyst for the gulf's financial markets — was nearly steady, as a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles offset a smaller-than-expected cut to Russian supplies, while investors closely watched developments on Iraqi Kurdistan oil exports.
Brent crude futures fell 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $78.23 a barrel at 0630 GMT.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index (.TASI) rose 0.7%, with luxury real estate developer Retal Urban Development Company (4322.SE) adding 0.7% and Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE), Saudi Arabia's second-largest lender by assets, edging up 0.8%.
Al Rajhi Bank is set to raise $1 billion with five-year sustainable Islamic bonds, a document from one of the banks arranging the deal showed on Wednesday.
Al Kathiri Holding Company (3008.SE) surged nearly 10%, after it completed 100 million riyals ($26.64 million) worth of domestic sukuk offering.
Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) advanced 0.4%, gaining for a third consecutive session, led by real estate and utilities stocks. The blue-chip developer Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) climbed 1.4%, and Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (EMPOWER.DU) inched up 0.5%.
In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index (.FTFADGI) also added 0.4%, after closing flat on Wednesday.
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD), the UAE's largest lender, climbed 2.6% on Thursday, its biggest gain in more than 2 months, while medical manpower staffing firm Response Plus Holding (RPM.AD) inching up 1.4% after it announced an annual dividend of 0.07 dirham a share.
The benchmark stock index (.QSI) in Qatar was also up 0.4%, boosted by financials, with Sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan (MARK.QA) jumping more than 3% and chemical maker Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) rising 0.7%.
($1 = 3.7535 riyals)
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