DUBAI: Feb 15 Middle East stock markets look set to firm on Monday as global bourses rebound in response to rallies in European and U.S. banking stocks and a strong fixing for China’s yuan after the end of the Lunar New Year.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is up 2.3 percent on Monday morning and Japan’s Nikkei has soared over 7 percent; oil prices have pulled back slightly but are holding on to most of Friday’s big gains.
Gulf investors remain reluctant to commit themselves to any extended uptrend, but the strong global environment may encourage some buying by local retail investors.
In addition, Saudi Arabia’s central bank, seeking to ease tightening liquidity, has raised the ratio of deposits which commercial banks can lend out to 90 percent from 85 percent, industry sources told Reuters.
This may not in the long term make much difference to the financial pressures on Saudi banks, which face deteriorating credit quality as the economy slows as well as demands on their funds from heavy government bond issuance, but it is a welcome sign of authorities acting to support the sector.
Several strong quarterly earnings announcements in the United Arab Emirates may buoy markets there. Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties reported a 9.1 percent rise in net attributable to 760 million dirhams ($206.9 million); an analyst at SICO Bahrain had forecast 513 million dirhams.
Dana Gas swung to a $134.2 million profit in the fourth quarter as a one-time contribution from an arbitration process helped offset the global downturn in energy prices.
And Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank posted a 16.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit to 477.4 million dirhams; Beltone Financial had forecast 399 million dirhams.