DUBAI, April 12 Generally positive first-quarter
results from banks in the Gulf helped lift confidence in
financial stocks in early trade on Wednesday, while Saudi
Arabia's third largest telecommunications operator jumped by its
daily limit after it swung to its first ever quarterly net
Shares in Qatar National Bank rose 0.9 percent
after it reported net profit of 3.2 billion riyals ($879
million) in the three months to March 31, up 12 percent from the
prior year period and beating Arqaam Capital analysts' forecast
of 3.0 billion riyals.
Loan growth was up 33 percent year on year to 536 billion
riyals, while customer deposits rose by 34 percent to 541
Its peers that trade on Doha's exchange were also
strong, with Commercial Bank jumping 3.1 percent. The
index was up 0.8 percent.
In Saudi Arabia, banking shares were also outperforming with
all but one of the 11 lenders advancing. Confidence in the
sector was lifted after Saudi British Bank reported
earnings that were broadly in line with estimates.
The lender made a first quarter net profit of 1.04 billion
riyals, down 9.3 percent from the year-ago period. SABB
attributed the fall in net profit to higher operating expenses,
but said it was partially offset by a 1.6 percent increase in
Shares in telecommunication operator Zain Saudi
jumped 10 percent to 10.05 riyals in their opening minutes of
trade after the company made its first ever quarterly net profit
since listing in 2008 of 45 million Saudi riyals. That compared
to a loss of 249.7 million in the prior-year period, and beat
analysts' estimate of a loss of 104 million riyals.
Zain Saudi's sales grew 9 percent to 1.92 billion riyals.
Analysts at NCB Capital attributed the surprisingly positive
result to strong top-line growth, a record-high gross margin of
67.3 percent, and lower-than-expected depreciation and financing
The Dubai index was up 0.1 percent, buoyed by a 1.0
percent rise in shares of Dubai Islamic Bank, which
had reported a 4 percent rise in first quarter results on
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)