|25 March, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Middle East stocks advance on giant U.S. stimulus package

23 of thirty stocks in Egypt gain

A trader stands in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh June 15, 2015.

A trader stands in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh June 15, 2015.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Wednesday, as a mammoth stimulus in the United States to mitigate the economic blow from the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic lifted investor sentiment across the globe.

U.S. senators and Trump administration officials have reached agreement on a massive economic stimulus bill to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the negotiators said on Wednesday. 

The Senate will vote on the $2-trillion package later in the day and the House of Representatives is expected to follow suit soon after.

In Abu Dhabi, the index jumped 7.4%, extending gains from the previous session, driven by a 8.1% rise in First Abu Dhabi BankFAB.AD and a 9.1% increase in Emirates Telecommunications .

Dubai's main share index advanced 6.4%, as Emaar Properties surged 11.5%, while Emirates NBD Bank ended 8.2% higher.

Qatar's index was up 3.1%, with Qatar National Bank climbing 4.8%.

On Wednesday, the Qatari central bank approved the postponement of loan instalments and interest for six months for sectors affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it said in a statement. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose over 3% during the day before closing 0.2% up. Savola Group added 4.8%, while Banque Saudi Fransi ended 2.6% higher.

Saudi Arabia introduced a 21-day curfew on Monday after registering a jump in infections.  It reported its first death on Wednesday, in Medina, and 205 new cases taking its total to 767. 

Across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council the tally rose to over 2,250 with six deaths, as Oman registered 15 new infections and Kuwait four.

The gains were capped by losses at Saudi Company for Hardware 4008.SE and Nama Chemicals 2210.SE , which declined 7.2% and 6.7% respectively. The duo reported steep falls in their annual earnings.

In Egypt, which last week suspended all commercial flights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the index .EGX30 increased 1%. Tobacco monopoly Eastern Company was up 1.3%.

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

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