Saudi leads Gulf bourses lower on weak earnings, Dubai gains

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.

Feb 2 (Reuters) - Most stock exchanges in the Gulf fell in early trade on Thursday following a slew of corporate earnings that fell short of expectations, with the Saudi main share index dragged down by Alinma Bank (1150.SE).

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index (.TASI) slipped 0.2%, pressured by losses in banking and real estate sector stocks.

Shares of Alinma Bank fell 2.2% after the bank reported 32.8% growth in annual net profit to 3.60 billion riyals ($959.3 million) that missed analysts' estimate of 3.72 billion riyals.

Central banks in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain lifted their key interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, following the Federal Reserve's hike of the same size, as their currencies are pegged to the dollar.

However, Qatar's central bank said on Wednesday it was keeping its interest rates unchanged.

CBQ typically follows the Fed's moves as the Qatari riyal is also pegged to the dollar.

The Qatari main share index (.QSI) slipped 0.5%, extending losses for a fourth straight session.

Banking sector stocks drove losses in the index with Masraf Al Rayan (MARK.QA) declining 2.6%, while Islamic lender Qatar Islamic Bank (QISB.QA) was down 1%.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark index (.FTFADGI) retreated 0.3%, on track to break a three-day winning streak, with the UAE's largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) losing 0.6% and conglomerate International Holding Company (IHC.AD) 0.9% lower.

However, National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC.AD) rose 1.7% after the firm posted a 30% increase in annual net profit to 1.30 billion dirhams ($353.9 million).

Dubai's benchmark index (.DFMGI) was up 0.5%, bolstered by a 3.1% gain in low-cost carrier Air Arabia (AIRA.DU), while blue-chip developer Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) rose 0.7%.

Oil prices - a key contributor to Gulf economies - drifted higher on Thursday after the OPEC+ panel endorsed keeping production cuts agreed last year in place.

Brent crude was up $0.39, or 0.47%, at $83.23 a barrel by 0818 GMT.

($1 = 3.7526 riyals)

($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham)

Reporting by Mohd Edrees in Bengaluru; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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