Gulf markets mostly subdued despite rising oil prices

An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange
An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014./File Photo

March 27 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly subdued on Monday, with banking shares taking the biggest hit across the markets as investors in the region were cautious despite some gains in oil prices and an easing of global banking stability fears.

Sentiment among investors remained pessimistic as concerns around the banking sector’s woes remain in investors’ minds, said Fadi Reyad, Chief Market Analyst at MENA.

Oil prices - a key catalyst for Gulf financial markets - rose on Monday after a halt to oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan via Turkey and moves to contain a potential banking crisis, with Brent crude futures gaining $1.16, or 1.6%, at $76.15 a barrel by 1210 GMT.

Abu Dhabi's share index (.FTFADGI) dropped 0.8%, in its third day in the red, dragged down by a 0.3% decline in UAE's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD).

Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) declined 0.7%, extending losses to a second consecutive session, led by drops in its financial stocks, with Emirates NBD Bank (ENBD.DU), UAE's largest lender, decreasing 1.9% and Dubai Islamic Bank (DISB.DU) tumbling 2.1%.

The Qatari benchmark index (.QSI) also fell 0.3%, ending a four day rally, weighed down by a 1.2% dive in Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA), the Gulf's biggest bank by assets, and a 0.8% retreat in chemical makers Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA).

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) closed flat, as heavy losses in material sectors were capped by gains in healthcare stocks, with Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services (4013.SE) gaining 3.8% but Sabic Agri-Nutrients (2020.SE), which was trading ex-dividend, recorded its sharpest intraday decline in over three years, to close 8.3% lower.

Index heavyweight Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) also fell 0.2%.

Aramco said on Monday it has raised its multi-billion dollar investment in China by finalising and upgrading a planned joint venture in northeast China and acquiring an expanded stake in a privately controlled petrochemical group.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30), closed 0.2% lower, with index heavyweight Commercial International Bank Egypt (COMI.CA) shedding 0.4% and EFG Hermes Holdings (HRHO.CA) losing 2.9%.

The country's lone cigarette maker, Eastern Company (EAST.CA), however, surged 7.4% after on Sunday it revised the price of some products.

Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams

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