The Saudi stock market extended losses for a third session on Tuesday amid mixed responses from Middle East stock markets to rising investor concerns of a possible global recession.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index eased 0.1%, hit by a 4.6% slide in Sahara International Petrochemical. The kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are boosting state spending on social welfare by billions of dollars as they seek to shield their citizens from rising living costs. The UAE is doubling financial support to low-income Emirati families to 28 billion dirhams ($7.6 billion) to help with soaring inflation in the Gulf state, while Saudi Arabia is set for a 20 billion riyal ($5.33 billion) allocation.
The main share index in Dubai, the Middle East's travel and tourism hub, dropped 1.1%, hitting its lowest since late-December and wiping out gains so far this year. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties declined 2.8%, while utility firm Dubai Electricity and Water ended 1.6% lower. Elsewhere, shares of Tecom Group, which is owned by the investment vehicle of Dubai's ruler, fell 8.6% on their stock market debut.
Business activity in the United Arab Emirates non-oil private sector retreated to its slowest pace in five months in June, although growth remained positive for a 19th consecutive month, a survey showed on Tuesday. In Abu Dhabi, the index lost 0.4%, with the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank off 1%.
Oil prices, a key catalyst for Gulf financial markets, slipped as concerns of a possible global recession curtailing fuel demand outweighed supply disruption fears, highlighted by an expected production cut in Norway.
The Qatari benchmark, however, added 0.4%, helped by a 3.5% rise in Qatar Islamic Bank.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index fell 0.3%, at its lowest in more than 2 years, with Fawry For Banking Technology and Electronic Payment sliding 7.8%. However, the losses were limited by a 8% jump in Madinet Nasr For Housing and Development. Egyptian property developer SODIC said on Tuesday it had submitted an offer to buy up to 100% of Madinet Nasr.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith)