Saudi banks stabilise after tax settlement, Dubai sinks

Dec 24 () - Most Gulf stock markets moved little early on Monday and Saudi Arabian banking shares were largely stable after some dropped on the previous day in response to news of a deal with tax authorities. Two blue chips dragged Dubai's market down sharply.

The Saudi index was up 0.1 percent after 80 minutes with Al Rajhi Bank flat and Samba Financial Group adding 0.5 percent. Five bank stocks were higher, two lower and the rest flat.

Saudi banks agreed with Islamic tax authorities to resolve a dispute over increased liabilities that will result in one-off payments, although many banks had already made provisions for much of the liabilities.

"We remain overweight on Saudi banks and view this settlement as a positive event ahead of even more pivotal catalysts" -- Saudi Arabia's inclusion in emerging market indexes next year, and expected rises in domestic interest rates, Arqaam said.

Qatar's index was flat although Qatar Commercial Bank fell 1.9 percent.

The Dubai index tumbled 1.6 percent to a five-year low as Emaar Properties lost 1.9 percent and Emirates, the top bank, fell 4.5 percent in very thin trade.

But Union Properties gained 2.1 percent after saying it would hold a board meeting on Thursday to consider buying back 10 percent of its shares, in order to resell them later.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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