Mideast Stocks: Most major Gulf stocks decline, but banks boost Saudi

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index advanced 1.9%

  
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 major Gulf shares lost steam on Thursday, ending a two-day rally triggered by the giant $2 trillion stimulus package in the United States to mitigate the economic blow from the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

In Abu Dhabi, the index sank 3.8%, with the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and telecoms firm Etisalat dropping 5% and 4.9%, respectively.

Dubai's main share index slipped 0.8%. The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) largest sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank fell 3.1%, while Emaar Malls was down 3.6%.

The UAE will halt all public transport and restrict people's movements in the evening for a weekend nationwide disinfection campaign starting Thursday to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Qatari index lost 0.7%, as Qatar National Bank declined 3.5% and Qatar Islamic Bank eased 1.4%.

The Gulf state temporarily closed all in-person money exchange and transfer services from March 26 to limit the spread of the coronavirus, its state news agency said on Wednesday. 

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has recorded nearly 2,500 coronavirus cases, with eight deaths. Saudi Arabia has the highest tally of infections at 900.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, advanced 1.9%, extending gains for a third session, led by banking shares. Al Rajhi Bank  increased 1.7%, while National Commercial Bank was up 2.7%.

The kingdom, which reduced trading hours temporarily for all listed securities, reported its second coronavirus death and tightened a nationwide curfew on Wednesday.

Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.5%. El Sewedy Electric increased 2.5% and Cleopatra Hospital ended 3.1% higher.

Egypt, which has declared a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks from Wednesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, also reduced its trading hours for the same period. 

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

More From Equities