Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets fall, following global shares lower

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.7%, led by a 3.2% slide in Saudi Telecom

  
Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

Saudi men inspect a screen showing stock prices at ANB Bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 16, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Major Gulf stock markets retreated on Thursday, mirroring a decline in global shares and oil prices, as investors remained anxious about the spread of a new flu-like virus in China.

Deaths from China's new coronavirus rose to 17 on Wednesday, with more than 540 cases confirmed, leading Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, to close transportation networks and urge citizens not to leave as fears rose of the contagion spreading.

Brent crude futures were down 82, or 1.3%, to $62.39 a barrel by 0400 GMT, and earlier dropped to the lowest since Dec. 4, after falling 2.1% the previous session.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.7%, led by a 3.2% slide in Saudi Telecom, a day after it reported a 22% plunge in fourth-quarter net profit.

Al Rajhi Bank eased 0.5%. Saudi Aramco lost 0.4%.

EFG Hermes on Wednesday initiated coverage of Aramco with a "neutral" rating, in line with most other brokerages, and set a target price of 34 riyals ($9.06) per share.

Yanbu National Petrochemical declined 2.9% after posting a lower fourth-quarter net profit.

The Abu Dhabi index opened 0.5% down in early trade with telecoms company Etisalat shedding 0.6% and National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain tumbling 4%.

Qatar's index dropped 0.3%, driven lower by Qatar National Bank, which was down 0.5%, and Qatar Gas Transport, which dipped 1.2%.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.2% as Emirates NBD dropped 0.7% and Emaar Properties slipped 0.5%.

It saw some support from Dubai Islamic Bank, which gained over 1%, as the sharia-compliant lender completed acquisition of unlisted Noor Bank.

($1 = 3.7511 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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