Gulf stock markets rose early on Thursday after Brent crude oil jumped more than 5 percent to back above $40 a barrel and Qatar National Bank (QNB) beat forecasts slightly with its first-quarter earnings.
QNB rose 1.4 percent to 139.90 riyals after reporting a 7.1 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 2.9 billion riyals ($796.5 million); analysts at EFG Hermes and SICO Bahrain had expected 2.77 billion and 2.71 billion riyals.
However, the stock faces strong technical resistance at 142.00 riyals, its peaks in February and March. The Qatar stock index climbed 0.9 percent.
Gulf Warehousing was the most heavily traded stock in Qatar and rose 1.8 percent after bourse data showed foreign ownership in the company had increased to 26.2 percent. Late last month, just after the Qatar Central Securities Depository raised the maximum foreign ownership percentage for its shares to 49 percent, foreign ownership was 25.6 percent.
Dubai's index was up 1.0 percent after an hour of trade in a broad rally, with all of the 10 most heavily traded stocks rising. But telecommunications firm du sank 3.1 percent as it went ex-dividend.
Abu Dhabi added 0.7 percent as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank bounced from technical support on its March lows of 6.32-6.35 dirhams, climbing 3.0 percent to 6.51 dirhams.
Petrochemical and telecommunications stocks boosted Saudi Arabia's bourse.
The Saudi index added 0.8 percent in the first hour of trade as petrochemical producer Saudi Kayan climbed 1 percent after announcing the start of commercial operations at a new butanol plant. Saudi Basic Industries rose 1.3 percent.
Telecommunications firm Mobily climbed 2.9 percent to 31.60 riyals. In a research note, NCB Capital described the Saudi telecoms sector as "a safe haven from the impact of oil volatility and lower government spending", though it gave a "neutral" rating to Mobily with a target of 31.90 riyals.
Yanbu Cement was flat after reporting an 11 percent year-on-year drop in quarterly net profit to 184 million riyals ($50.1 million). This was roughly in line with expectations; Albilad Capital had forecast 187 million.
Egypt's index fell 0.5 percent after a monthly purchasing managers' survey showed business activity shrank for the sixth straight month in March, with declines in new orders and output causing the biggest contraction in the index for more than two and a half years.
Qalaa Holdings, which had soared by more than a third since mid-March before its rise stalled this week, was the most heavily traded stock and pulled back a further 2.5 percent.
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