Abu Dhabi shines in dull Gulf trade before holidays

RIYADH (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi shares rose 1.1 percent in early trade on Wednesday, the only market shining in an otherwise lacklustre day in the region before holidays, helped by gains in defensive stocks such as First Abu Dhabi Bank <FAB.AD> and Etisalat .

FAB rose 2.2 percent as UAE’s biggest lender benefited from its lack of exposure to Turkey and continued interest after its strong quarterly earnings, while telecom firm Etisalat climbed 1.2 percent.

Dana Gas was down 1.8 percent after it reported a 14 percent decrease in second-quarter net profit on Tuesday, citing one-off sukuk restructuring costs.

Saudi Arabia , the region’s biggest market, was up 0.1 percent in thin trade in the build up to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Gulf markets will be mostly closed next week.

Financials and energy firms were weak in early trading.

A Morgan Stanley note said despite limited absolute upside, it continues to like Saudi banks within the emerging EMEA region with Samba Financial its top pick.

“Saudi banks are highly capitalised, highly profitable, highly cost efficient, tightly monitored and regulated,” the note said.

Samba, nevertheless, was down 0.8 percent in early, thin trade.

Dubai shares were down 0.3 percent. DAMAC Properties was down 2.8 percent, extending losses from a day earlier when it reported a 46 percent drop in profit from continuing operations.

The Qatar index was also flat.

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