UAE stocks slump on concerns over new COVID-19 variant 

Fall in oil prices last week too weighed on sentiment 

  
An investor is seen at the Dubai International Financial Market, in Dubai, UAE April,16, 2018.

An investor is seen at the Dubai International Financial Market, in Dubai, UAE April,16, 2018.

REUTERS/Satish Kumar

UAE stock indices slumped in early trading on Sunday, dragged down by concerns over the new COVID-19 variant. A drop in global oil prices on Friday on similar concerns too weighed on investor sentiment in the oil-rich Gulf country.

Dubai's DFM General Index dropped more than 5 percent on open to 3,009 points, led by blue chip property developer Emaar Properties. The index however recovered slightly and was trading at 3,020.35 by 11:00 am.

On Friday, the UAE announced that it is suspending flights from 7 African countries due to the new coronavirus variant.

Sharjah-based Air Arabia fell nearly 10 percent to 1.39 dirhams in early trade. Airline and travel stocks were among the hardest hit in global trading on Friday as many countries announced new travel curbs and quarantine measures as they rushed protect their borders. 

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) index is also currently trading 2.5 percent lower at 8,243 points after plunging to 8,197 shortly after the opening bell.

Oil prices also fell sharply on Friday on travel restrictions and the fear of new mobility restrictions. Brent oil closed the week at under $73 per barrel, its lowest level in two and a half months. The UAE stock markets are strongly co-related to oil price fluctuations.

The World Health Organization designated the new highly mutated strain of Covid a "variant of concern" and gives it the Greek name Omicron.

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria) 

brinda.darasha@refinitiv.com

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