Gulf stock markets were mixed in low-volume trade around midday on Wednesday after tumbling in the previous session when oil prices hit fresh 5-1/2-year lows.
Brent crude was just above $57 per barrel as Gulf bourses opened, roughly the same level that prevailed during Gulf trading hours on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia’s index fell 1.7 per cent, dragged down by heavyweight banks and petrochemicals. National Commercial Bank , the kingdom’s biggest lender, fell 0.9 per cent and Saudi Basic Industries lost 1.5 per cent.
Takween Advanced Industries rose 1.2 per cent after it said on Wednesday that it had agreed to buy a packaging unit of the region’s largest food firm Savola Group for SAR910 million ($242.5 million). Savola, on the other hand, was down 0.9 per cent.
Qatar’s index fell 0.7 per cent as heavyweight Industries Qatar lost 1.8 per cent.
With oil prices still volatile, fund managers are cautious about markets where petrochemical stocks are heavily weighted, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a Reuters monthly survey showed on Wednesday.
Institutional investors are more upbeat about markets such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates which are dominated by firms with no exposure to oil.
Dubai’s stock index edged up 0.5 per cent in relatively thin trade while Abu Dhabi’s bourse was up 1.6 per cent. Egypt’s index added 0.4 per cent.
Oman’s benchmark rose 2.0 per cent ahead of the 2015 state budget announcement scheduled for Thursday.
Bank Muscat added 1.0 per cent after it said it had sold its brokerage business to Gulf Baader Capital Markets, a brokerage firm based in the sultanate. It did not give the selling price.
Kuwait edged up 0.3 per cent and Boubyan Bank , which dominated trading, rose 1.2 per cent after the chief executive of Commercial Bank of Kuwait told Reuters late on Tuesday CBK had completed the reduction of its stake in Boubyan. The identities of the buyers of the shares were not known.