|27 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Saudi leads Gulf lower as China virus fears mount

28 of thirty Egyptian stocks drop

Image for illustrative purposes. A trader monitors screens displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh June 15, 2015.

Image for illustrative purposes. A trader monitors screens displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh June 15, 2015.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Middle East stocks slipped, with Saudi Arabia hardest hit on Monday, mirroring drops in oil prices and global shares on concerns about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister said it is closely monitoring developments in global oil markets resulting from "gloomy expectations" regarding the possible impact on the Chinese and global economy, as well as on the oil market. 

The death toll in China has risen to 81 and the virus spread to more than 10 countries, including France, Japan and the United States. 

The total number of confirmed cases in China rose about 30% from the previous day, to 2,744. But some experts suspect the number of infected people is much higher.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index tumbled 1.8%, extending losses for a fifth-day. National Commercial Bank slid 3.1%, while Al Rajhi Bank fell 1.2%.

Brent crude fell by $1.95 a barrel, or 3.2%, to $58.75 by 1128 GMT, its lowest since late October and the biggest intra-day fall since Jan. 8. 

In Dubai, the index tumbled 1.2%, with Dubai Islamic Bank shedding 1.7%, while Emirates NBD Bank was down 1.1% following a 15% plunge in fourth-quarter net profit on higher impairment charges. 

The Abu Dhabi index retreated 1.2%, led by a 1.4% drop in First Abu Dhabi Bank, ahead of its board meeting to approve financials.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank fell 2.8% after it reported fourth-quarter net profit of 1.05 billion dirhams ($286 million), down from 1.24 billion a year earlier.

Qatar's index declined 0.9% as Qatar National Bank and Commercial Bank dropped 1% and 2%, respectively.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dipped 0.6%, with 28 of thirty stocks ending in the red, including Commercial International Bank, which lost 0.6%.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

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

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