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Middle Eastern stocks dip as China virus fears escalate

Ateeq Shariff/Bengaluru
Filed on January 26, 2020
Middle Eastern stocks dip as China virus fears escalate

(KT file)

Most Middle Eastern stocks were pressured on Sunday by the slump in US shares and oil prices, due to concerns that a spreading virus from China would curb travel and hurt economic demand.

The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China's National Health Commission said on Sunday, with almost 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease.

Containment efforts, which have included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, China's National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said.

On Friday, Brent crude fell $1.35, or 2.2 per cent, to $60.69 a barrel.

Saudi's benchmark index ended down 0.7 per cent, with Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries shedding 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical plunged 4.3 per cent, its biggest intraday fall since April. On Thursday, the firm reported that its fourth-quarter loss widened to 167.4 million riyals ($44.63 million).

Saudi Arabia Fertilizers Co, which posted a 40.5 per cent decline in fourth-quarter profit, dropped 2.3 per cent. However, National Medical Care leapt 4.2 per cent after announcing a higher dividend of two riyal per share for 2019.

The Dubai index eased 0.6 per cent, hurt by a 1.4 per cent decline in Dubai Islamic Bank and a 0.7 per cent fall in Emirates NBD Bank.

Qatar's index fell 0.4 per cent. Mesaieed Petrochemical declined 1.7 per cent, while Doha Bank tumbled 2.5 per cent, to become the top loser.

On Sunday, the latter was scheduled to report full-year earnings, which have been delayed until February 2.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.3 per cent as First Abu Dhabi Bank retreated 0.3 per cent and Emirates Telecommunications slipped 0.2 per cent.

The index saw some support from Sharjah Islamic Bank , which gained more than three per cent, as the lender reported a higher annual profit.

Egypt's blue-chip index edged down 0.1 per cent, with Sixth of October Development and Investment losing 2.3 per cent and Cleopatra Hospital sliding 2.6 per cent.

- Reuters

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