Mideast Stocks: Banks weigh on Saudi as most major Gulf markets ease

Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Tuesday

  
An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Tuesday, with Saudi leading losses on the back of declines in financial shares.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.9%, with Al Rajhi Bank down 1.1% while Samba Financial Group fell 2.7%, ending three sessions of gains spurred by an initial merger agreement with National Commercial Bank (NCB).

NCB, the kingdom's biggest lender, was down 0.3%.

A senior International Monetary Fund official said on Tuesday that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will see their economies shrink by 7.6% this year amid low oil prices and the new coronavirus crisis. 

Dubai's main share index fell 0.7%, with most of its constituents lower. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties declined 2.2%, while sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank was down 1%.

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday said Islamic banks in the United Arab Emirates are not isolated from low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. 

In Qatar, which has the second highest tally of coronavirus infections among the six Gulf Arab states, the index dropped 0.6%, with Qatar National Bank down 1.3%.

The Gulf state aims to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks as the infection rate subsides, authorities said.

Qatar has also announced that from Aug. 1, it will permit flights from low-risk countries to resume, malls to operate at full capacity and other markets at limited capacity.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.2%, helped by a 1.8% rise in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1%, with developer Talaat Mostafa gaining 1.2%

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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