January 15, 2020 / 8:13 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most major Gulf markets slip but Oman bucks trend with sharp rise

Jan 15 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf stock indexes fell at Wednesday’s open, with Abu Dhabi dragged down by its top lender, but Oman bucked the trend as financial stocks led a sharp rise as the market reopened after a three-day break.

Oman’s blue-chip bourse, which had closed following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, rose 1.5% for its biggest intraday gain this month. Bank Muscat rose 3.7%, while Raysut Cement was up 7.6% after reporting a large rise in full-year net profit.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index edged down 0.1%, hurt by a 0.6% fall in Saudi Aramco and a 0.7% drop in Saudi British Bank.

On Wednesday, JP Morgan initiated coverage of state-owned Aramco with an “overweight” rating and price target of 37 riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs’ “neutral” and Morgan Stanley’s “underweight” ratings.

The Abu Dhabi index lost 0.4% as the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank eased 0.6% and realtor Aldar Properties slipped 0.9%.

In Qatar, the index slipped 0.1% with market heavyweight Industries Qatar declining 1.3%, while Qatar National Bank was down 0.3%, despite reporting a rise in annual profit.

The lender reported a net profit of 14.4 billion riyals ($3.96 billion) in 2019, up from 13.8 billion riyals a year earlier.

The index found some support from Qatar Islamic Bank , which was up 1.3%.

Dubai’s main share index edged up 0.2% with Emirates NBD Bank and Emaar Properties gaining 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively. ($1 = 3.7516 riyals) ($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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