DUBAI Dec 22 Gulf stock markets barely moved in
quiet, early trade on Thursday before the announcement of Saudi
Arabia's 2017 state budget, expected in the afternoon.
The Saudi stock index edged up 0.1 percent in the
first 40 minutes. Much activity focused on second-tier stocks
such as Saudi Printing and Packaging, up 4.9 percent,
although Saudi Electricity rose 0.9 percent.
Saudi Electricity's profits rose in the wake of the 2016
state budget, which raised utility fees as well as domestic fuel
prices. The company reported a 50.8 percent jump in
third-quarter net profit.
The 2017 budget is expected to include some further energy
price hikes, though it is not yet clear whether these would
include electric utility fees.
Dubai's stock index fell 0.4 percent, Abu Dhabi
was down 0.1 percent and Qatar lost 0.2 percent,
dampened by a 1.8 percent pull-back by its largest bank, Qatar
Most Gulf markets have seen low trading volumes in recent
days because some investors are already on the sidelines for the
New Year holiday period.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Louise Ireland)