Most Gulf markets rise as China eases COVID curbs


Dubai (Reuters) – Most major stock markets in the Gulf rose in early trade on Tuesday, after China announced it would further ease its COVID-19 restrictions, bolstering expectations of a demand recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

China will stop requiring inbound travellers to go into quarantine starting from Jan. 8, the National Health Commission said on Monday. It will also downgrade the seriousness of COVID as it has become less virulent and will gradually evolve into a common respiratory infection.

The announcement buoyed other Asian markets as well, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index (.MIAPJ0000PUS) rising 0.53%.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index (.TASI) gained 0.6%, led by a 1.4% rise in Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) and a 1.1% gain in oil giant Saudi Aramco (2222.SE).

Dubai’s main share index (.DFMGI) added 0.1%, helped by a 0.4% rise in top lender Emirates NBD (ENBD.DU).

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets, rose to three-week highs as China’s latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions spurred fuel demand hopes, while concerns that winter storms across the United States were impacting energy production continued to support prices.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.FTFADGI) gained 0.2%.

Separately, Russian lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) will be forced to close its office in the United Arab Emirates early next year, First Deputy Chairman Alexander Vedyakhin said on Monday, blaming sanctions pressure.

The Qatari index (.QSI), however, bucked the trend to trade 0.5% lower.

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