Saudi Arabia's stock market ended lower on Monday following a downbeat economic forecast, while the Egyptian bourse extended loses on profit-taking. The kingdom has lowered its growth forecast and expects to post a budget deficit this year rather than an earlier projected surplus, a preliminary budget statement showed on Saturday.
The largest Arab economy expects real gross domestic product to grow by 0.03% this year, the document released by the ministry of finance showed, compared with a previous forecast for growth of 3.1%.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.3%, weighed down by a 1.2% fall in oil giant Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Arabia is expected to tap the international debt markets to finance a projected budget deficit in 2023-2024, the finance ministry said, against a backdrop of lower oil prices and the country's extended oil production cuts.
Oil prices, which remain below last year's average of $100 a barrel, rose above $90 after Riyadh said last month that it was extending a voluntary oil output cut of 1 million barrels per day until the end of 2023.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.8%, falling for a third session after hitting its highest ever, as most of the stocks on the index were in negative territory including tobacco monopoly Easter Company, which declined 2.6%. Separately, global index provider FTSE Russell said on Thursday it would add Egypt to watchlists for possible demotion in its equity index suites.
In Qatar, the index gained 0.4%, with the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank advancing 1.6%. Qatar reported a balance of payments surplus of 7.9 billion riyals ($2.17 billion) in the second quarter of 2023, the central bank said on Sunday. It attributed the surplus to "the elevated diversification of the Qatari economy" which achieved targets.
Dubai's main share index finished 0.5% higher, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties climbing 4.2%.
- SAUDI ARABIA down 0.3% to 11,006
- ABU DHABI was flat at 9,788
- DUBAI added 0.5% to 4,183
- QATAR gained 0.4% to 10,257
- EGYPT lost 0.8% to 19,901
- BAHRAIN eased 0.2% to 1,933
- OMAN up 0.8% to 4,735
- KUWAIT dropped 1.1% to 7,468
($1 = 3.6454 Qatar riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)