Qatar leads Gulf markets higher, Abu Dhabi shares fall

A trader looks on near electronic boards showing stock market data at Bahrain Bourse after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, in Manama, Bahrain, November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Qatar's stock market on Wednesday extended its winning streak to a fifth straight session to outperform the Gulf region on strong earnings, while Abu Dhabi stocks ended lower.

Qatari index (.QSI) rose 0.5% as financial and materials sectors gained.

Qatar's Commercial Bank (COMB.QA) surged 10% on upbeat fiscal year earnings and higher dividend.

The bank reported a more than 22% rise in annual net profit to 2.81 bln-riyal ($771.98 million), beating analyst expectations of a profit of 2.34 bln riyal. It also raised annual cash dividend by 56% to 0.25 riyal per share compared with 2021.

The benchmark index (.TASI) in Saudi Arabia added 0.1%, helped by gains in healthcare, financial and materials stocks with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services (4013.SE) surging 3% and Dallah Health (4004.SE) rising 5.3%.

The oil giant Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) ended its six-session rally, falling 0.3%, while the world's largest Islamic bank by market capitalization Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) rose 0.4%.

Crude prices, a key catalyst for Gulf financial markets, steadied on Wednesday after a decline in the previous session, with Brent crude up 7 cents, or 0.1%, at $86.06 a barrel by 1227 GMT after declining 2.3% in the previous session.

Abu Dhabi stocks (.FTFADGI) fell 0.4%, with the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) dropping 1.8% and International Holding (IHC.AD) sliding 0.2%.

UAE conglomerate IHC is considering bidding for Indian billionaire Gautam Adani-led Adani Enterprises' (ADEL.NS) 200 billion rupee ($2.45 billion) follow-on sale of shares that began on Wednesday, the company's spokesperson said.

Dubai's benchmark index (.DFMGI) lost 0.4%, dragged down by fall in utilities, financial and real estate sectors with Dubai Electric (DEWAA.DU) falling 0.8%, and Emirates Central Cooling Systems (EMPOWER.DU) dropping 1.3% while real estate heavyweight Emaar properties (EMAR.DU) lost 0.2%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) climbed 2.1%, continuing its rally since last Wednesday.

"The Egyptian stock market continued to surge while international investors maintained their buying trend. The market could continue to see benefits from the improving sentiment," said Fadi Reyad, chief market analyst at MENA.

Egypt's economy will grow 4.8% in the current fiscal year, faster than predicted by the government but will not meet its targets over the medium term, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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