Bank earnings boost Qatar, most Gulf markets slip


April 18 () - Qatar's stock market rose on Thursday, partly lifted by strong first-quarter earnings from two banks, while most major Middle Eastern markets declined.

Qatar's index was up 0.2 percent with Qatar Islamic Bank increasing 1.4 percent and Qatar Commercial Bank rising 1.3 percent.

Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Commercial Bank posted 9.6 percent and 6.5 percent gains respectively in first-quarter net profits.

Alahli Takaful dropped 2 percent after an agreement with National Commercial Bank to discontinue insurance coverage services to its creditors protection plan on the personal loan portfolio. National Commercial was down 0.7 percent.

Alahli said the loss of this contract is estimated at 3.4 million riyals($907,000) for 2018 and is expected to have a negative financial impact. The firm renewed other insurance policies with the lender for a year.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.4 percent with its largest lender Emirates NBD losing 1.3 percent, while logistics firm Aramex decreased 2.1 percent as the stock traded ex-dividend.

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with Emirates Telecommunications Group shedding 0.6 percent.

But some real estate stocks gained after Abu Dhabi said it would now allow all foreigners to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis after making changes to its real estate law.

Aldar Properties rose 2.2 percent and RAK Properties climbed 2.9 percent.

Aldar also said a recently launched residential project on Abu Dhabi'sYas Island, where land and property can be sold to all nationalities, had sold out and generated over 400 million dirhams ($108.91 million) in sales.

The United Arab Emirates capital previously limited ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council states.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

($1 = 3.7500 riyals)

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