Saudi Arabia's banks will be in focus on Wednesday after posting strong growth in first-quarter earnings but upside is limited as analysts say the results were priced in and largely in-line with estimates.
Regional heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank reported a profit of SAR2.01bn (US$536m), an 18 percent growth year-on-year. Analysts has estimated a profit of SAR2.09bn on average.
Lender SABB posted a 13.7 percent rise in first-quarter net profit of SAR854m, beating estimates of 801 million riyals.
"SABB gave a positive surprise with its net profit. Given operating income grew by 1.2 percent year-on-year, we estimate that the jump in profitability has come on account of negligible provisioning during the quarter," Global Investment House said in a note.
The fifth-largest Saudi lender by market value, Banque Saudi Fransi, posted a 10 percent gain in net profit of SAR789m on the back of improved operating income. It beat an average estimate of SAR778m riyals.
"The results were expected to be positive and they are priced in, I don't expect much reaction," says Tarek al-Mady, a Saudi-based financial analyst.
The Saudi bourse declined for a fifth session on Tuesday as investors booked gains from a recent rally. The index lost 1.9 percent, trimming year-to-date gains to 17.7 percent.
"After the earnings season finishes in a couple of weeks, money will probably shift to large-cap names," al-Mady adds.
Elsewhere, Dubai-listed Shuaa Capital, will be in focus after the struggling investment bank on Tuesday named a former ABN Amro banker as its new chief executive.
In Kuwait, the bourse said it will launch a new trading system on May 13, backed by The Nasdaq OMX Group Inc, to help trading of financial instruments such as derivatives and Islamic bonds.
Gulf sentiment may be weighed as Asian shares fell for a third straight day on Wednesday as investors reduced their risk positions due to uncertainty over global growth prospects.
Brent crude held at US$120 per barrel.