Mideast Stocks: Most of Gulf markets decline on coronavirus fears

Most major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday, led by financial stocks

  
A screen displaying stock market prices is seen at an investment bank in Riyadh in this file photo taken June 9, 2013.

A screen displaying stock market prices is seen at an investment bank in Riyadh in this file photo taken June 9, 2013.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/Files

Most major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday, led by financial stocks, on concerns over the economic fallout from the coronavirus that has spread to nearly 80 countries and territories and killed more than 3,000 people.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index reversed early gains to close 0.8% down, with all its banking shares trading lower.

Tourism-related firm Jabal Omar Development was the biggest drag on the index, which sank 4.4%, while Al Rajhi Bank was down 0.5%.

Saudi Arabia extended suspension of Umrah pilgrimages by foreigners to also include Saudi citizens and residents due to concerns about the new coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported. 

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also halted the use of Gulf Cooperation Council cards for transit between the six member states, instead mandating passports, which can reveal more about previous travel.

The Dubai's index fell 0.8%, weighed down by a 3% fall in Emirates NBD Bank and a 4.6% slide in budget airliner Air Arabia.

In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 0.6% with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank losing 0.9%, while Abu Dhabi Aviation tumbled 7.6%, its biggest fall since January.

The UAE, which has reported atleast 27 coronavirus cases, urged its citizens and other residents to avoid travelling abroad because of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency WAM said on Thursday. 

Flights from the UAE to Iran, Bahrain and most of mainland China have been suspended because of the outbreak, which has also led to major events being cancelled across the country.

Egypt's blue-chip index gained 1.3%. Commercial International Bank added 1.7% and tobacco monopoly Eastern Company  rose 2.8%.

Stock exchange data showed that Egyptian investors were net-buyers of stocks.

The Qatari index rose 0.7%, buoyed by a 2.1% gain in the Gulf's largest lender Qatar National Bank and a 1.8% rise in Industries Qatar.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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