Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 1 April 2020

Middle East markets weaker on coronavirus concerns

Most Middle Eastern bourses were pressured on Sunday, mirroring Friday's slide in global shares and oil prices due to growing concern about the economic impact of a new coronavirus outbreak, while Saudi Arabia was hit by a slew of poor corporate earnings.

China ramped up measures to contain the epidemic and shore up an economy hit by travel curbs and business shut-downs on Sunday as the first death from the illness was reported outside the country. Some 304 people have died in China, the country's National Health Commission said on Sunday, with the number of infections jumping to 14,380 as of Saturday. Saudi Arabia's index declined 1.1 per cent to 8,158 points, dragged lower by banking share losses.

Al Rajhi Bank fell 1.1 per cent, while Alinma Bank retreated 3.7 per cent following an 11.3 per cent decline in its annual net profit. After the market's close, Samba Financial Group, the kingdom's third-largest lender by assets, posted a 30 per cent rise in its annual profit to 3.99 billion riyals (Dh3.91bn). Ma'aden, Saudi Arabian Mining Company, decreased 3.3 per cent. On Thursday, it posted an annual net loss of 739.5 million riyals, compared to a profit of 1.85 billion riyals for 2018. State-owned Saudi Aramco dipped 0.6 per cent to 33.95 riyals, hitting its lowest point since it began trading on December 11 as oil prices weakened.

The Dubai index ended 0.9 per cent down at 2,766 points, led by a 1.5 per cent fall in Emirates NBD Bank and a 0.9 per cent drop in Dubai Islamic Bank. In Abu Dhabi, the index lost 0.8 per cent, closing at 5,116 points. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender, eased 1 per cent, while telecoms firm Etisalat was down 0.7 per cent.

In Bahrain, the all-share index edged up 0.1 per cent to 1,660 points and in Oman the main market index rose 0.3 per cent to 4,093 points. The Kuwait Premier Market index dropped 0.5 per cent to 7,002 points.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index slipped 0.2 per cent, with El Sewedy Electric and Juhayna Food losing 2.8 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively. The index saw some support from Telecom Egypt, which soared 10 per cent, reaching its highest since August. The stock was up for a third session, helped by Vodafone Group's deal to sell its 55 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt . Last week, the firm said it had no intention of selling its 45 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

Updated: February 2, 2020 07:32 PM

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