The banking sector pushed Arabian Gulf stock markets slightly higher in early trade on Tuesday, a day ahead of the testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues on when the central bank would tighten US monetary policy.
Yellen's semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress will be on Wednesday and Thursday. San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said on Tuesday in Sydney that it was a reasonable view to expect one more rate hike this year, and his own view was to start adjusting the central bank's balance sheet in the next few months.
Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Four blue-chip banks were up in the first 45 minutes of trade in Qatar; the largest of them Qatar National Bank rose 1.7 per cent.
The bank is set to report second-quarter earnings, the first since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and impose stringent economic sanctions on the tiny Gulf state.
In Saudi Arabia, half of the 12 listed banks advanced after 10 minutes of trade with heavy weight National Commercial Bank adding 1.4 per cent.
Shares of Saudi Arabian Mining was up 0.6 per cent after saying it has started trial operations at its subsidiary Ma'aden Waad Al Shamal Phosphate Company. The impact on earnings will be recognised following when commercial production begins Ma'aden said in a statement.
United Electronics Company (Extra) added 0.5 per cent after its chief executive, Mohamed Fahmy, told financial news website, Argaam, late on Monday that the company aims to boost sales through its online portal, and strengthen partnerships with suppliers and brands offering the latest technologies and products.
Extra soared by its 10 per cent daily limit On Monday after it reported a near quadrupling in second quarter net income from a year earlier and a 15 per cent growth in sales.
Union National Bank was the top gainer amongst its peers in Abu Dhabi, adding 1.5 per cent. The index was up 0.2 per cent.
The Dubai index was up a small 0.2 per cent with the majority of trade focused on small-to-mid sized shares. Property developer Deyaar Development was up 1.5 per cent.
Shares of Kuwait's largest lender National Bank of Kuwait were up 0.2 per cent, after reporting in-line second quarter net profit of 79.3 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh959m), an almost 11 per cent rise from a year earlier.
EFG Hermes forecast NBK would make a quarterly net profit of 84 million dinars and Arqaam Capital estimated its net profit at 83 million dinars.
Kuwait's index was flat.