|26 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Middle Eastern stocks dip as China virus fears escalate

All Saudi Arabian banks slide

An investor (L) gestures to an electronic display board at the Dubai International Financial Market, March 24, 2010.

An investor (L) gestures to an electronic display board at the Dubai International Financial Market, March 24, 2010.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Most Middle Eastern stocks were pressured on Sunday by the slump in U.S. shares and oil prices due to concerns that a spreading virus from China would curb travel and hurt economic demand.

The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China's National Health Commission said on Sunday, with almost 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease. 

Containment efforts, which have included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said.

On Friday, Brent crude fell $1.35, or 2.2%, to $60.69 a barrel.

Saudi's benchmark index ended down 0.7%, with Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries shedding 0.6% and 1.2%, respectively.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical 2350.SE plunged 4.3%, its biggest intraday fall since April. On Thursday, the firm reported that its fourth-quarter loss widened to 167.4 million riyals ($44.63 million).

Saudi Arabia Fertilizers Co (SAFCO), which posted a 40.5% decline in fourth-quarter profit, dropped 2.3%.

However, National Medical Care leapt 4.2% after announcing a higher dividend of 2 riyal per share for 2019.

The Dubai index eased 0.6%, hurt by a 1.4% decline in Dubai Islamic Ban and a 0.7% fall in Emirates NBD Bank.

Qatar's index fell 0.4%. Mesaieed Petrochemical declined 1.7%, while Doha Bank tumbled 2.5%, to become the top loser.

On Sunday, the latter was scheduled to report full-year earnings, which have been delayed until Feb. 02.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.3% as First Abu Dhabi Bank retreated 0.3% and Emirates Telecommunications slipped 0.2%.

The index saw some support from Sharjah Islamic Bank, which gained more than 3%, as the lender reported a higher annual profit.

Egypt's blue-chip index edged down 0.1%, with Sixth of October Development and Investment losing 2.3% and Cleopatra Hospital  sliding 2.6%.

($1 = 3.7511 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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