Mideast Stocks: Most Gulf bourses slide on vaccine efficacy worries

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.7%


Most stock markets in the Gulf wobbled lower in early trade on Tuesday, in line with subdued Asian shares and oil prices, with the Dubai index leading the losses ahead of a long weekend.

A sudden burst of risk aversion gripped most major asset markets across Asia after the head of drugmaker Moderna told the Financial Times that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been previously. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.7%, hit by a 1.2% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.6% decline in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco expects its Jafurah gas field to produce approximately 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas by 2030, CEO Amin Nasser said on Monday at a conference on the commercialisation of unconventional resources. 

Shares of Aramco, however, were unchanged.

Dubai's main share index declined 1%, weighed down by a 1.3% slide in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 1.1% decrease in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.

Elsewhere, budget airliner Air Arabia retreated more than 2%.

The World Health Organization said on Monday Omicron posed a very high risk of infection surges, and several countries stepped up travel curbs. It is still unclear how severe the new variant is and whether it can resist existing vaccines. 

The Qatari benchmark eased 0.2%, with Qatar Islamic Bank losing 0.7%.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, fell more than 3%, giving up early gains. 

In Abu Dhabi, the index gained 0.4%, led by a 1.1% rise in conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC).

IHC's subsidiary Multiply Group will list directly on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange on Dec. 5.

Direct listings allow companies to list on the stock market without a traditional and more costly initial public offering.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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