In Dubai, Dar Al Takaful insurance company led the gains, up 14.8 percent. Dubai Islamic Insurance was up 7.95 percent, as investors bet on stronger first-quarter earnings for the sector.
Gulf shares were mixed on Thursday amid lacklustre trade as investors wait for earnings season, while insurance stocks lifted Dubai’s index as investors bet on gains for the companies after a mandatory health insurance plan was enforced. In Dubai, Dar Al Takaful insurance company led the gains, up 14.8 percent. Dubai Islamic Insurance was up 7.95 percent, as investors bet on stronger first-quarter earnings for the sector. Dubai Health Authority announced at the end of March that 99 percent of residents are now covered by its new mandatory health insurance plan.
“We noticed the gains are happening across most of the insurance companies, mostly in Dubai. It could be driven by better Q1 expectations of results for the sector, or because of the compulsory insurance in Dubai,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, the chief executive officer of NBAD Securities. “There is also some market chatter that there could be some consolidation in the sector this year,” he said.
The Dubai Financial Market General Index was down 0.78 percent to 3,545.41 points. In Abu Dhabi, shares slipped on low volumes a day after benchmark funds balanced their positions in First National Bank of Abu Dhabi following a merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank. First National Bank of Abu Dhabi was down 1.76 percent to 11.15 dirhams a share.
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The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index was down 0.42 percent to 4,621.16 points. Trade on Wednesday’s session was positive and was focused on First National Bank of Abu Dhabi shares. “What we noticed is that the market has lost some of the gains from yesterday’s session with an obvious drop in traded value on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange,” Yasin said.
Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All-Share Index was up 0.45 percent, Bahrain’s gauge was up 0.15 percent, the MSM 30 Index slipped 0.18 percent, and Qatar’s benchmark lost 0.20 percent. “It is a continuation of the rangebound trading, whether in Saudi Arabia or Qatar, investors are waiting for Q1 results that will define or dictate the market,” Yasin said. First-quarter results are due in the coming weeks.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Alison Williams)