Mideast Stocks: Most Gulf markets retreat on economic toll from virus

Most Middle Eastern stock markets ended lower on Sunday, with Dubai leading the losses

  
Traders monitor stocks at the Dubai Stock Exchange in the Dubai World Trade Center.

Traders monitor stocks at the Dubai Stock Exchange in the Dubai World Trade Center.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Most Middle Eastern stock markets ended lower on Sunday, with Dubai leading the losses, on mounting fears of a deep recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has brought the global economy to a standstill and plunged the world into a recession that will be "way worse" than the global financial crisis a decade ago, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Friday. 

The index in Dubai, which has imposed a two-week lockdown, dropped 2.4%, weighed down by a 4.8% fall in Dubai Islamic Bank (DIN).

On Sunday, the sharia-compliant lender said it had a $541 million exposure to troubled hospital group NMC Health, directly and through a unit, as UAE banks disclosed their dealings with the firm after a lender asked for it to be put into administration. 

In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 2.2%, with the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank declining 3.3% and telecoms firm Etisalat down 1.3%.

The United Arab Emirates has proposed delaying Expo 2020 Dubai until October 2021 because of the pandemic, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) said on Saturday.

Expo is a major business and cultural event held every five years in cities around the world selected by the BIE based in Paris.

In Qatar, the index edged up 0.3%, supported by a 1.3% rise in Qatar Fuel Company.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index was flat, as banking and petrochemical shares moved sideways. Al Rajhi Bank retreated 1.5%, while Saudi Basic Industries was up 2.4%.

The kingdom's authorities announced a lockdown and a partial curfew in seven neighbourhoods of Jeddah starting on Saturday as part of measures to try to contain the virus outbreak, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip indexended 1% down, as Commercial International Bank  lost 1.9%.

Egypt has reported 1,070 coronavirus cases as of Saturday including 71 deaths. The most populous Arab country has been hit hard by the outbreak, which has wiped out its tourism industry and prompted authorities to close airports, restaurants, firms and shops and to impose a night curfew. 

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

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