Saudi index eases after Haj curbs on foreigners; Dubai extends gains

The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia fell 0.5%, with petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries shedding 1.2% and oil giant Saudi Aramco losing 0.6%

  
A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabian shares retreated in early trade on Tuesday, after the kingdom barred arrivals from abroad to attend the 'Haj' pilgrimage this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, while Dubai stocks were on track for a second straight session of gains.

The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia fell 0.5%, with petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries shedding 1.2% and oil giant Saudi Aramco losing 0.6%.

The kingdom will allow only a limited number of Saudi citizens and residents to make the pilgrimage with social distancing measures enforced.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long 'Haj'. Official data showed that Saudi Arabia earns around $12 billion a year from 'Haj' and the year-round pilgrimage 'Umrah'.

This will be the first year in modern times that Muslims from around the world have not been allowed to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Elsewhere, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's firm Kingdom Holding declined 4.8% after it posted loss in the first-quarter of 2020, compared to a profit in the year-ago period.

Extending gains from the previous session, the Dubai benchmark index rose 1%, after the emirate announced on Sunday that it would allow tourists to enter from July 7 in a further easing of its coronavirus lockdown.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties gained 1.8%, its unit Emaar Malls, owner and operator of the world's largest shopping centre Dubai Mall, rose 4.4%.

Dubai also allowed those with residency visas to enter from Monday.

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.1%, hurt by a 3.3% fall in aquaculture firm International Holding.

Qatar's index edged down 0.1%, dragged down by the Gulf's largest lender by assets, Qatar National Bank, which fell 0.6%.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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