Gulf markets ended mixed on Thursday in lackluster trade with telcom operator Etisalat helping lift the Abu Dhabi index after strong quarterly results.
In the United Arab Emirates, Etisalat's shares rose 0.7 per cent. The telco reported a 17-per cent rise in profits in the second-quarter, beating estimates.
Chief Executive Ahmad Julfar told Reuters Etisalat may increase its holding in Saudi Arabia's operator Mobily.
"The company has managed to effectively control its costs which have been reflected in the improvement of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margins," analyst Umar Faruqui at Global Investment House said in a research note. "Our full year 2012 net profit forecast for Etisalat is Dh7.35 billion, which we believe is likely to be met."
Abu Dhabi's index ticked up 0.3 per cent higher, snapping a three-day losing streak.
In Dubai, bluechips rose with Emaar Properties gaining 1.3 per cent, up for a third straight session. Contractor Arabtec gained 1 per cent and heavyweight lender Emirates NBD advanced 2.7 per cent.
The emirate's index climbed 0.6 per cent to close at 1,510 points.
Elsewhere, Qatar Co for Meat and Livestock (QMLS) surged 5.7 per cent to hit a fresh all-time high.
The stock is up 80.5 per cent year-to-date, outperforming Doha's benchmark, which is down 6.3 per cent so far this year.
"The activity (on QMLS) is mostly retail dominated and is looking more like a momentum play," said Ahmed Shehada, head of trading at Qatar National Bank Financial Services. "There is a strong move in several mid- and small-caps and you see money moving from one name to the other."
Other stocks being targeted by retail investors include Vodafone Qatar and Mazaya Qatar, which have year-to-date gains of 17.9 per cent and 52.6 per cent respectively.
Doha's index ended little changed. Gains in QMLS and banks offset declines in 13 stocks. Masraf Al Rayan added 0.2 per cent.
In Kuwait, Al Ahli Bank slipped 1.5 per cent in its heaviest trading in more than three years.
The lender traded 15.6 million shares, accounting for nearly a fifth of all shares changing hands on the bourse.
"Most probably, it's a change in ownership or the shares are being collateralised from one bank to another for a loan," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.
Kuwait's index eased 0.07 per cent to its lowest close since Jan. 12. It has given up all of its early-year gains and has dropped since reaching a one-year high in early May.
"Since May, the market has been through volatility. People are nervous because most of the bank's results are late, which is never the case. (National Bank of Kuwait's) results didn't help at all," Darwish added. "Investors are on the sidelines. There is nothing positive in the market."
Heavyweight National Bank of Kuwait rose 1 per cent, up from Wednesday's nine-month low as bargain hunters returned.
The lender has been under selling pressure since last week when it posted a 41.6 per cent decline in second-quarter profit, widely missing estimates.
* The index gained 0.3 per cent to 2,470 points.
* The index rose 0.6 per cent to 1,510 points.
* The benchmark eased 0.06 per cent to 8,227 points.
* The measure eased 0.07 per cent to 5,747 points.
* The measure advances 0.2 per cent to 4,753 points.
* The index fell 0.2 per cent to 5,388 points.
* The measure gained 0.4 per cent to 1,114 points.