|26 February, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Dubai leads Gulf lower as coronavirus concerns intensify

Dubai hits lowest in eight months

Image used for illustrative purposes only. Investors looks at stock exchange information at the Dubai Financial Market .

Image used for illustrative purposes only. Investors looks at stock exchange information at the Dubai Financial Market .

REUTERS/Mosab Omar

Most Gulf stocks extended loses on Wednesday as the coronavirus continued to spread through the Middle East, with Kuwait and Bahrain reporting a rise in new cases.

Three Gulf Arab states recorded their first coronavirus cases this week, all in people who had travelled from Iran, which on Wednesday reported a total of 19 virus-related deaths, the most outside China, and 139 cases.

Bahrain, which has suspended flights to Dubai, on Wednesday reported a rise in the number of cases to 26, some in people who had travelled through the UAE. Oman has recorded four cases.

Kuwait, which last week evacuated 700 people from Iran, has reported 25 cases.

Dubai's main share index dropped 2% to its lowest level since June last year. Emaar Properties lost 2.7%, while sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank was down 2.1%.

The UAE has reported 13 cases of the coronavirus since Jan. 28.

Budget airliner Air Arabia extended losses from the previous session to close 2.1% lower, a day after the UAE suspended all flights to and from Iran for at least a week due to the spread of the coronavirus in the Islamic republic. 

Qatar's index retreated 1.6%, extending losses for a fourth consecutive day. Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest lender, declined 3% and Qatar Insurance slumped 7.9%, its biggest intra-day fall since mid-March 2018 as the stock traded ex-dividend.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 0.6%. Samba Financial Group1090.SE was down 3.2% and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries was 1% lower.

In Abu Dhabi, the index ended 0.9% lower, hurt by a 0.6% fall in top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 2.9% drop in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Egypt's blue-chip index was down 1%, with tobacco monopoly Eastern Company EAST.CA losing 2.4% and Commercial International Bank falling 0.3%.

The Kuwait bourse was closed for a public holiday.

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

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