Mideast Stocks: Most Gulf markets in red; Kuwait up on banks

Kuwait's c. bank allows lenders to distribute 2020 dividends

A Kuwaiti trader is seen at the Kuwait Boursa stock market trading hall in Kuwait city, Kuwait September 16, 2019.

A Kuwaiti trader is seen at the Kuwait Boursa stock market trading hall in Kuwait city, Kuwait September 16, 2019.

REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Sunday, with Dubai extending losses from the previous session as rising COVID infections in the United Arab Emirates weighed on sentiment.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.5%, with National Commercial Bank, the country's largest lender, shedding 1.7%, while Al Rajhi Bank was down 0.5%.

The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthi movement said it had thwarted an air attack towards the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on Saturday, Saudi state television reported, but the Iran-aligned group denied any involvement. 

Dubai's main share index lost 0.7%, extending losses from the previous session, dragged down by a 2% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.

Amongst others, budget airliner Air Arabia slid 3.7%.

Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trading hub. 

New daily cases in the Gulf state of about 9 million people tripled in the past month to about 354 per million this week, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data research programme. 

The UAE does not release location data for infections, making it difficult to determine if Dubai, which relaxed restrictions early on, has been the hardest hit by the recent surge.

The Abu Dhabi index gave up early gains to close flat, with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rising 0.9%.

In Qatar, the index eased 0.3%, hit by a 0.8% fall in the Gulf's largest lender Qatar National Bank and a 0.6% decrease in Qatar Islamic Bank.

Kuwait's blue-chip index, however, rose 0.6%, with all its financial shares closing higher, including National Bank of Kuwait, which was up 0.6%.

Kuwait's central bank allowed banks to distribute dividends to shareholders based on their 2020 financial statements and net profit. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index declined 1.1%, pressured by a 2% fall in Commercial International Bank, the country's largest lender.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Philippa Fletcher) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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