0743 GMT - Gulf markets are mixed in muted trade as
investors await monetary action from European policy makers,
while the summer and Ramadan lull keeps pressure on volumes.
Abu Dhabi's banks help lift the bourse to a fresh
four-month high, buoyed by upbeat quarterly earnings.
The index advances 0.3 percent to 2,542 points.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Union
Notional Bank rise 0.3 percent each.
First Gulf Bank (FGB) builds on Thursday's
four-month high, advancing 0.7 percent.
ADCB and FGB beat analysts' average forecasts with steady
profit growth painting a positive picture of the banking sector
in the UAE, in particular Abu Dhabi.
"Abu Dhabi banks have been coming out with solid numbers...
Emaar's results were excellent even though they had a
challenging quarter," says Ibrahim Masood, senior investment
officer at Mashreq bank. "Overall, it's (UAE markets) shaping up
Dubai's bellwether Emaar Properties adds 0.9
percent, up 33.9 percent so far this year. The developer's
quarterly earnings more than doubled, beating forecasts.
Dubai's measure slips 0.4 percent to 1,567 points,
down for a fourth session in the last five. The index hit a
three-month high last Sunday.
Drake and Scull is the main drag, falling 1.3
percent from a near-four-month high. The stock has rallied in
recent sessions on earnings expectations. The firm is expected
to release Q2 numbers this week.
In Qatar, the index eases 0.1 percent to 8,406
points. It slips from Thursday's 10-week high amid slight
Industries Qatar sheds 0.4 percent and Qatar
Insurance dips 1.4 percent.
Elsewhere, Oman's benchmark advances 0.1 percent to
5,469 points and Kuwait's measure trades near flat.
Investors are keeping an eye on global developments with
hopes of bond buying in Europe. European Central Bank President
Mario Draghi two weeks ago said that the central bank was "ready
to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro," raising hopes of
heavy bond buying to aid Spain and Italy.
0550 GMT - Saudi Arabia's investors are likely to book-gains
in the last few sessions of Ramadan ahead of a long holiday at
the end of the week, while an upbeat global backdrop could
provide support to Gulf investor sentiment.
The kingdom's bourse extended gains on Saturday,
edging up 0.5 percent to a fresh 11-week high.
Eid holiday, marking the end of the Muslim month of fasting
is likely to start this weekend and run into next week.
"In the last week of Ramadan, you're not going to want to be
in the market," says Tariq Alalaiwat, equity research analyst at
NCB Capital. "What we will see as soon as investors come back
after Eid, is buying into the market ahead of Q3 earnings and
until the numbers come out."
While investors will stay out of the market over the holiday
to avoid exposure to global events, a reaction to any negative
events post-holiday would be exaggerated, Alalaiwat says.
In Dubai, regional investment bank Shuaa Capital
may see some selling pressure after it swung to a second-quarter
net loss. The firm continued its restructuring efforts and
booked one-off costs associated with the process.
Lower oil prices could also encourage investors to book
profits in petrochemical stocks.
Brent September crude eased 27 cents to settle at
$112.95 a barrel on Friday on data showing China's crude oil
imports dropped in July. Weaker global oil demand forecasts by
the International Energy Agency also weighed.
U.S. stocks notched a gain for the sixth session in a row on
Friday. Stock markets' recent rally has been underpinned by
comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi two
weeks ago that the central bank was "ready to do whatever it
takes to preserve the euro," raising hopes of heavy bond buying
to aid Spain and Italy.
(Reporting by Nadia Saleem; Editing by Dinesh Nair)