DUBAI: Most Middle East bourses traded lower on Thursday on global concerns over widening impact of the Greek debt crisis, while Abu Dhabi banks helped lift the index, after an upbeat report from Credit Suisse.
"(Gulf Arab) banks don’t have any specific exposure to Europe, especially not Greece, but are always hit first when investors are scared," said Nour Al-Zoubi, general manager at MAC Sharaf Securities in Dubai. "Investors are also slightly disappointed over Q1 results."
Qatar Commercial Bank and Qatar National Bank fell 2.2 and 0.4 percent respectively, weighing on the index which closed 0.6 percent lower.
Vodafone Qatar and Qatar Telecom, added to the benchmark from Thursday after a reshuffle, ended 1.1 percent higher and 0.8 percent lower respectively.
Qatar’s economy grew 8.7 percent in 2009, below forecasts, the Gulf state’s statistics office said.
Kuwait’s benchmark fell 0.9 percent as National Bank of Kuwait declined 1.6 percent.
Kuwait’s stock market has posted losses since May 3, as worries over the country’s financial sector continue to weigh.
"The situation for the investment companies remains tough and continues to put pressure on the market," said Samer Al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage.
Dubai’s index ended 0.1 percent lower, receiving a a boost in late trading following European markets’ recovery after a weak opening.
"There is a low turnover due to the Greece debt problem but European markets are turning into a profit again, which may be an indicator there will be some rebound regionally," said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.
Emirates NBD bank and telecom operator du were the day’s strongest performers, climbing 2.4 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.
Abu Dhabi’s index climbed 0.5 percent, recouping most of the previous day’s losses when the index fell 0.8 percent.
The market’s two largest banks by market value, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, gained 0.4 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.
Credit Suisse upgraded NBAD to "outperform" from "neutral" and lifted the price target for NBAD and First Gulf Bank by around 30 percent on "robust operating earnings and better-than-expected asset quality" in the first quarter.
Oman’s index fell 0.4 percent. Banks’ performance was mixed, with Bank Muscat closing 0.3 percent higher.
"Omani banks 1Q10 net profits rebounded sharply from the 4Q09 low levels, on the back of a steep reduction in credit provisions and investment impairments, and healthy operating income growth," investment bank SICO said in a research note.
Traders saw upward potential for next week as any resolution of Dubai World’s debt restructuring could boost sentiment.
"People are waiting for Dubai World, once there is a resolution, there will be a return of turnover in the market and investors will go for stocks with attractive valuations," Gulfmena’s Shurrab said.
The Saudi bourse is closed on Thursdays.