Major Gulf markets fall as financial shares drag

(Reuters) – Most Middle Eastern stock markets ended lower on Wednesday, dragged down by losses in financial shares, with energy stocks reeling from a plunge in oil prices that sent crude futures below $40 a barrel for the first time since June.

FILE PHOTO: Traders look at the screens at Bahrain Bourse in Manama, Bahrain, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Brent crude tumbled more than 5% on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia cut its October selling prices and COVID-19 cases rebounded in several countries, although it clawed back some losses on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index slipped 0.1%, with Jabal Omar Development sliding 3.9% and Samba Financial Group losing 2%.

State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco was down 0.4%.

Helping offset some of those losses, Saudi Electricity Company gained 1.2%. The kingdom’s electric transmission monopoly plans to issue U.S. dollar-denominated bonds soon, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing four sources familiar with the matter.

Dubai’s main share index fell 0.6%, weighed down by a 2.7% slide in Emirates NBD Bank and a 1.4% drop in malls operator Emaar Malls.

Dubai’s non-oil private sector expanded marginally in August for the second straight month, although at a slower pace than in July as weak demand led to a sixth month of job cuts, a survey showed.

The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.2%, hurt by a 0.4% fall in the country’s largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and a 0.2% decrease in telecoms firm Etisalat.

Ratings agency Moody’s said on Monday asset managers in most of the Gulf will face moderate-to-high pressure on their profitability over the next year to 18 months as a result of low oil prices and the pandemic.

In Qatar, the index dropped 0.5%, with most of the stocks in the index ending in negative territory, including lender Masraf Al Rayan, which fell 1.1%.

Egypt’s blue-chip index ticked down 0.2%. Talaat Mostafa Holding declined 4%, while Telecom Egypt retreated 5.2%.

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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