Most Gulf stocks end higher as oil prices firm; Saudi retreats
March 28 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock indexes closed higher on Tuesday, as fears of a banking contagion eased, while rise in oil prices amid supply disruption risks and strong demand recovery in China also lifted sentiment.
Oil prices - a key catalyst for Gulf's financial markets - extended gains from the previous session amid supply disruption risks from Iraqi Kurdistan and hopes that turmoil in banking is being contained, with Brent crude futures gained 61 cents, 0.8%, to $78.73 a barrel by 1006 GMT.
"Improving sentiment has benefited GCC stock markets where performances were in the red lately as receding concerns over the US and European banking sectors have brought some relief for investors," said Ahmed Negm, head of market research MENA at XS.com.
The Qatari benchmark index (.QSI) climbed more than 2%, as 19 of the 20 constituent stocks ended higher.
Sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan (MARK.QA) jumped over 6%, its biggest gain in more than 3 years, while chemical makers Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) was up 2.9%.
Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) added 1.7%, after three days of losses, boosted by strong gains in banking and property stocks, with lender Dubai Islamic Bank (DISB.DU) rising 4.9% and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) increasing 4.8%.
Abu Dhabi's share index (.FTFADGI) also rose 0.4% after three consecutive sessions of declines, led by a 0.9% rise in UAE's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) and a 3.4% jump in Aldar Properties (ALDAR.AD).
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) closed flat, as gains in healthcare sectors were offset by losses in financials, with Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services (4013.SE) gaining 3.8% but Al rajhi Bank (1120.SE) falling 1.5%.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) slipped for a second day to close 0.3% lower, with index heavyweight Commercial International Bank Egypt (COMI.CA) falling 3.9% and EFG Hermes (HRHO.CA) dipping 1.7%.
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