|25 February, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Most Mideast stocks slip as virus fears continue

Most Middle Eastern stocks fell on Tuesday

Investor Ahmed Al Gharabally looks up at a quotation board at the Dubai stock exchange December 7, 2005.

Investor Ahmed Al Gharabally looks up at a quotation board at the Dubai stock exchange December 7, 2005.

REUTERS/Tamara Abdul Hadi

Most Middle Eastern stocks fell on Tuesday, extending the previous session's sharp selloff triggered by a spike in the number of coronavirus cases outside China.

The death toll from the virus in Iran rose to 16, the highest outside China, while other hard-hit nations including South Korea and Italy accelerated emergency measures to curb the spread of the epidemic. 

Dubai's share index closed down 0.9% with Emaar Properties losing 3.2% and Air Arabia falling 3.4%.

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday suspended all flights to and from Iran for at least a week due to the spread of the virus in the country. Air Arabia, whose main base is at Sharjah International Airport, is the UAE's only listed airline.

Qatar’s index dropped 0.7% with Qatar Islamic Bank down 2.5% and Industries Qatar off 1.7%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.9%. Commercial International Bank and EFG Hermes fell 2.2% and 3.3%, respectively.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index reversed course to close 0.1% higher. Jabal Omar Development jumped 6.8% and Samba Financial Group added 1.6%. Saudi Aramco rose 0.3%.

The International Energy Agency's outlook on global oil demand growth has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said on Tuesday, adding it could be reduced further due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lower prices and disruptions to crude exports could impact fiscal balances in countries reliant on oil income.

Brent crude had slipped 26 cents to $56.04 a barrel by 1105 GMT, giving up earlier gains. 

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 0.9% gain in the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

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

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