Mideast Stocks: Saudi starts last month of 2020 on wobbly footing after a stellar November

Saudi benchmark, which posted its best monthly gain in four years in November, eased 0.2% in morning trade

  
A man checks his mobile phone next to a screen with Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) prices in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

A man checks his mobile phone next to a screen with Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) prices in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Saudi shares started the month on a weaker note on Tuesday, tracking lower oil prices, after the benchmark nailed solid gains in November on global cheer over the progress of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Investors worldwide are pinning their hopes on positive vaccine trial data, fuelling optimism about an economic recovery at a pace faster than expected initially.

But on Tuesday, oil prices fell due to concerns over mounting supply after leading producers delayed talks on 2021 output policy that could extend cuts as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sap fuel demand. 

OPEC and allies led by Russia postponed the talks to Thursday, three sources said on Monday, as key players still disagreed on how much oil they should pump. 

Saudi benchmark, which posted its best monthly gain in four years in November, eased 0.2% in morning trade.

Financials stocks dragged the benchmark with Saudi British Bank and Riyad Bank among top losers, declining 6% and 1.5%, respectively.

Oil behemoth and index heavyweight Saudi Aramco fell 0.4%, while Saudi Arabia's second-largest lender by assets Al-Rajhi Bank shed 0.3%.

Among gainers on the Saudi benchmark, food processing firm Wafrah For Industry & Development Co tacked on nearly 10%.

The markets in the United Arab Emirates are closed for holidays till the end of this trading week and will reopen on Sunday.

Elsewhere, in Qatar, the benchmark gained 0.7% with Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank putting on nearly 2% each.

The Kuwait benchmark declined 0.8%, with utility firm Shamal Az-Zour Al-Oula Power & Water Co leading the decliners, falling 2.4%.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing Philippa Fletcher) ((abyjose.koilparambil@thomsonreuters.com; +91 (0)8061822683;))

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