|23 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets fall as virus fears weigh on global sentiment

DIB completes Noor Bank acquisition

Traders react during the opening of the Dubai stock market June 26, 2016. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Traders react during the opening of the Dubai stock market June 26, 2016. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday, tracking weakness in global shares and oil prices, as the spread of a new coronavirus in China soured sentiment.

Beijing has locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, considered the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people, infected nearly 600 and rattled financial markets around the globe. 

Fears that spread of the virus from China could lower fuel demand if it stunts economic growth pushed oil prices down more than 1% on Thursday. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index  fell 0.5%, pulled lower by Saudi Telecom Company .

The telco dropped 4.7%, its biggest one-day fall since May, after it reported fourth-quarter profit of 2.41 billion riyals ($642.48 million), down from 3.11 billion riyals a year earlier.

Riyad Bank dipped 1.5%, while Yanbu National Petrochemical (Yansab)2290.SE declined 2.9% after posting a lower quarterly profit.

Qatar's benchmark index lost 0.5%, as 16 of 20 stocks on the index ended in red including Qatar National Bank and Masraf Al Rayan, which were down 0.9% and 1%, respectively.

In Dubai, the index eased 0.4% as Emaar Properties fell 1.7%, while logistic firm Aramex retreated 2.1%.

The index saw some support from Dubai Islamic Bank, which rose 1.6%, after United Arab Emirates' largest sharia-compliant lender completed the acquisition of unlisted Noor Bank.

Egypt's blue-chip index edged down 0.2%, with Commercial International Bank shedding 1% and tobacco monopoly Eastern Company losing 1.7%.

However, the Abu Dhabi index gained 0.2%, supported by a 0.8% rise in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). FAB said it was in talks to acquire the Egyptian subsidiary of Lebanon's Bank Audi.

($1 = 3.7511 riyals)

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

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