Gulf stock markets were narrowly mixed in quiet, early trade on Monday although Saudi Arabian banks rose after a couple of them announced second-quarter earnings.
The Saudi stock index edged up 0.2 per cent in the first half hour as Riyad Bank gained 0.9 per cent. It posted a 1.6 per cent year-on-year rise in second-quarter net profit to 1.15 billion Saudi riyals; analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast 1.03bn riyals.
Samba Financial Group, which reported a 1.4 per cent drop in quarterly profit that was in line with forecasts, climbed 1.7 per cent.
The biggest Saudi lender, National Commercial Bank , rebounded 1.2 per cent after falling 1.5 per cent on Sunday, when it reported that its quarterly profit came in at 2.44bn riyals, at the low end of estimates.
Much activity, however, focused on second- or third-tier stocks such as Amana Insurance, which surged 6.2 per cent in unusually heavy volume.
That pattern was seen elsewhere in the Gulf, with small-capital insurance shares drawing an unusually large share of activity. Dubai’s index added 0.2 per cent; the most heavily traded stock was Islamic Arab Insurance, up 3.7 per cent.
Similarly, Abu Dhabi’s index edged down 0.2 per cent as the most active stock was Methaq Takaful Insurance, which jumped its 15 per cent daily limit.
In Kuwait, National Bank of Kuwait gained 1.7 per cent despite reporting a below-forecast 7.2 per cent rise in profit to 71.68 million dinars; analysts had predicted 79.04m dinars on average. Kuwait’s stock index drifted 0.3 per cent lower.
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