Most Gulf stock markets rose on Sunday due to firm oil prices and relief that the weekend’s military attack on Syria was relatively limited in scope and there was no immediate retaliation.
The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles after a suspected poison gas attack in Syria a week earlier. The strikes were limited to three alleged chemical weapons facilities, Washington said.
“Regional markets have lagged global risky assets over the last four years, so the sharp recovery in oil prices so far further underpins the bull case for regional markets,” said Mohamed El Jamal, managing director at Abu Dhabi’s Waha Capital.
“Today’s price action demonstrates that despite the geopolitical risks, investors remain in a buy-the-dip mode in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
Brent crude oil closed at $72.58 a barrel, near multi-year highs. This gave support to the petrochemical sector in Saudi Arabia, where the main stock index rose 1.9 percent on Sunday. Nama Chemicals was the best performer, up 10 percent.
Blue chip Saudi Basic Industries added 1.8 percent and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical was up 2.7 percent.
Advanced Petrochemical fell in early trade but rebounded to close 2.3 percent higher. The company estimated first-quarter net profit fell to 98 million riyals from 124.4 million riyals a year earlier, as sales declined 4.2 percent; analysts surveyed by Reuters had on average forecast profit of 124 million riyals.
The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.0 percent, lifted by energy producer Dana Gas, up 2.2 percent, and real estate developer Aldar Properties, which added 2.9 percent.
Dana said in late March it would seek shareholder approval to pay a dividend for 2017, its first in years. At the weekend, it published on its website a report by Al-Khaleej newspaper saying “the Board can also now continue to recommend dividends in future years”. Aldar Properties rose 2.9 percent after raising its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 40 percent. The change may not lead to an immediate rise in actual foreign ownership — non-Arab foreigners now hold 25.66 percent of the company — but it may boost the stock’s weighting in emerging market indexes.
In Dubai, where the index added 1.8 percent, amusement park operator DXB Entertainment gained 1.4 percent. The stock started rising after it announced an increase in visitor numbers to its facilities in the first quarter of this year.
Retailer Marka was the worst performer, plunging 10 percent after saying it would ask shareholders on April 30 to approve a capital reduction in order to extinguish accumulated losses of 450 million dirhams, then issue new shares.
Real estate developer Deyaar rose 2.2 percent after reporting a 25 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, as revenue rose 24 percent; in full-year 2017, profit shrank 40 percent.