Mideast Stocks: Saudi Arabia drops to near-8 month low, major Gulf markets slide

Saudi's index slumped 2.5%, with Seera Group dropping 4.7%


Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply to hit a near eight month low on Monday, as oil prices weighed on its financial and petrochemical shares, while other major Gulf markets slid in early trading.

Saudi's index slumped 2.5 percent, with Seera Group dropping 4.7 percent after the travel operator posted a 40 percent drop in its first-quarter net profit, citing competitive pricing and higher costs.

Oil prices tumbled after President Donald Trump said he would sharply hike tariffs on Chinese goods this week, risking the derailment of trade talks between the world's two biggest economies.

Last week, Saudi local investors were the net sellers of stocks, representing 85.8 percent of total selling activity, according to the stock exchange.

Yanbu National Petrochemicals and Advanced Petrochemicals fell 3.4 percent and 3.7 percent, receptively.

Saudi Arabia's index added 1.3 percent last week as it saw a second tranche of stocks included in the FTSE Russell emerging market index, Al Mal Capital said in a note.

Saudi's Tadawul index has a weighting of 2.9 percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion.

Qatar's blue-chip index lost 0.9 percent, pressured by its financial stocks. Doha Bank and Qatar Fuel  fell 3.3 percent and 2.4 percent, receptively.

The index has risen 0.7 percent this year, and it was up only 0.6 percent until last week, making it the second-worst performing Gulf market after Oman.

Out of 10 fund managers polled, most said they would keep their investments in Qatar at the same level, while 40 percent said they would decrease them, according to a Reuters poll last week.

The Dubai index lost 0.1 percent, weighed down by Islamic insurer Dar Al Takaful falling 3.7 percent and Islamic Arab Insurance Co sliding 1 percent.

Dubai Investments edged down 0.7 percent after posting lower net profit for its first-quarter.

Abu Dhabi's index slipped 0.4 percent, with property developer RAK Properties shedding 1.8 percent after it reported a 84 percent slump in first-quarter net profit.

(Reporting by Karina Dsouza and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams) ((Karina.Dsouza@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6373; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: karina.dsouza@thomsonreuters.com))

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