Thursday, May 26, 2022

Persian Gulf bourses in red over COVID worries

Most stock markets in the Persian Gulf were subdued on Sunday, with coronavirus infections across the region rising again.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index (.TASI) lost 0.2%, dented by a 0.3% fall for Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) and a 0.6% decline for Saudi National Bank (1180.SE).

Health authorities in the kingdom advised citizens and residents last week to avoid all unnecessary foreign travel. Saudi Arabia reported its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Dec. 1.

Among other losers, Jabal Omar Development Co (4250.SE) slid 2.4%, after increasing the volume of shares offered to the fund manager of Alinma Makkah Real Estate Fund to settle payment obligations owed to the fund.

A Saudi citizen and a Yemeni resident were killed after a Houthi projectile hit the southern Saudi city of Jazan on Friday, Saudi state media reported, in continued escalation of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.

The war in Yemen has cost Riyadh billions of dollars as the world’s biggest oil exporter contends with additional pressure on state finances because of weak oil prices.

The Abu Dhabi index (.ADI), meanwhile, dropped 0.3% as Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB.AD) retreated by 2% and the country’s largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD), lost 0.7%.

Dubai’s main share index (.DFMGI) was flat in early trade.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced a particularly sharp increase in COVID-19 infections since announcing the arrival of Omicron early this month, with 1,621 coronavirus cases recorded on Saturday, up from 68 on Dec. 2.

The resurgence comes during the region’s peak tourism season, especially in the UAE, which is welcoming millions of visitors to the Expo 2020 Dubai world fair and other seasonal events.

The Qatari index (.QSI) eased 0.3%, pressured by a 0.8% decline for the Gulf’s biggest lender, Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA).

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