Mideast Stocks: Most major Gulf markets extend losses; banks boost Saudi

In Abu Dhabi, the index declined 1%. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, traded 2.8% lower, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was down 2.5%

  

Most major Gulf stocks indexes fell on Tuesday, extending losses from the previous session, as nervous investors continued to sell due to weak oil prices, while bargain buying supported Saudi equities.

Brent crude was up 42 cents, or 1.9%, at $23.18 a barrel at 0750 G5MT, after closing on Monday at $22.76, its lowest finish since November 2002.

Meanwhile, global oil refiners have cut their throughput because of the slump in demand for transportation fuel, with European refineries slashing output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd), sources told Reuters.

In Abu Dhabi, the index declined 1%. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, traded 2.8% lower, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank  was down 2.5%.

Dubai's main share index retreated 0.8%, pressured by a 4.3% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 4.8% drop in its unit Emaar Development.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are spending tens of billions to prop up their economies during the coronavirus crisis and oil price slump but the scaling back of state projects is blunting the impact.

State spending in the energy producing Gulf is the main engine of economic growth. Saudi and UAE authorities have announced nearly $70 billion in stimulus to ease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Fitch Ratings said this accounted for more than 10% of the UAE's GDP and over 4% of Saudi Arabia's.

The Qatari index slipped 0.6%, with Qatar Islamic Bank losing 2.5% and Qatar Fuel Company easing 1.2%.

Qatar National Cement, which is not a part of the index, sank 3.5%. On Monday, the firm said it would shut two cement plants from Wednesday to help combat the spread of the virus and due to decreased demand in the local market.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, gained 1.4%, with all its banks rising but one. National Commercial Bank 1180.SE added 2.1% and Al Rajhi Bank was up 0.7%.

The kingdom plans to boost its oil exports to 10.6 million bpd from May because the country is burning less oil for power generation and there is also lower domestic consumption, a Saudi energy ministry official said on Monday.

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

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