Major Gulf markets edge up, tracking oil prices and Asian shares

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Most stock markets in the Gulf edged up on Monday, tracking oil prices and Asian shares, on hopes a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package will be passed by US lawmakers as soon as this month just as vaccines are being rolled out globally.

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Brent crude for April touched an intraday high of $60.06 a barrel, the highest since January last year, on hopes of a quicker economic revival as well as supply curbs by producer group OPEC and its allies.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained 0.8 percent, on track to extend gains for a third consecutive session.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the Gulf’s largest petrochemical maker, advanced 1.2 percent, while National Commercial Bank traded 1.4 percent higher.

In Dubai, the main share index rose 0.1 percent, helped by a 0.6 percent gain in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.2 percent, with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country’s largest lender, rising 0.4 percent and telecoms firm Etisalat increasing 0.6 percent.

The United Arab Emirates will only vaccinate residents and citizens who are elderly or who have certain health conditions for the present time, state media said on Sunday.

The temporary policy change was made “to ensure acquired community immunity and contain the disease” following a spike in infections over the past weeks.

Elsewhere, Qatar’s benchmark eased 0.1 percent, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar losing 0.3 percent ahead of its earnings announcement.

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