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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Qatar stocks drop to 19-month low on regional tensions

Suspension of dialogue weighs on Doha stocks

A trader monitors a screen displaying stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange in Doha. Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters
A trader monitors a screen displaying stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange in Doha. Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters

Qatar's stock market sank to a 19-month low on Monday while other regional bourses were mixed in mostly quiet trade, although Saudi British Bank surged in Riyadh.

The Qatari stock index dropped 1.6 per cent to 8,532 points, its lowest finish since January 2016, in a broad sell-off that saw declining stocks outnumber gainers by 27 to nine.

Qatar National Bank, the biggest lender, slid 2.0 per cent and Qatar Gas Transport dropped 4.4 per cent.

The market has been depressed by the diplomatic dispute between Qatar and its neighbours that erupted in early June, and after a phone call between leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Riyadh accused Doha of "distorting facts" and suspended any further dialogue.

In Saudi Arabia, the index gained 0.5 per cent in rising trading volume as Nama Chemicals, which had surged 9.5 per cent in unusually heavy trade on Sunday, added a further 2.1 per cent to 21.90 Saudi riyals, though it pulled back from near technical resistance at its May peak of 23.22 riyals.

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Saudi British Bank climbed 2.6 per cent to 28.15 riyals after Morgan Stanley raised the stock to "overweight" from "equal-weight" and lifted its target price to 32.50 riyals from 31 riyals.

The Dubai index edged up 0.2 per cent. Union Properties, the most heavily traded stock, added 0.9 per cent and Deyaar gained 0.8 per cent.

Direct sales of United Arab Emirates properties are being allowed at this year's annual Cityscape exhibition in Dubai for the first time in a decade. Deyaar said in a stock exchange statement on Monday that it was launching a new Dh1 billion residential and hotel project at Cityscape.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.2 per cent but Abu Dhabi National Insurance Co (ADNIC) climbed 4.1 per cent in thin trade. On Sunday, Reuters quoted sources as saying Abu Dhabi Investment Council was weighing a sale of its nearly 24 per cent stake in ADNIC, with Allianz among groups showing initial interest in buying it.

In Egypt, the index climbed 0.6 per cent in active trade after news that annual urban consumer price inflation dipped to 31.9 per cent year-on-year in August from 33.0 per cent in July. If inflation continues to drop, it could permit the central bank to ease policy late this year.