Most major Gulf stock markets slipped on Sunday, with Dubai hardest hit following a surge in coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates, but Abu Dhabi bucked the trend to trade higher.
Dubai’s main share index dropped as much as 1.3% in early trade, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shedding 1.2%
Financial stocks also drove the losses, led by a Dubai’s biggest lender, Emirates NBD Bank, which was down 0.4%.
Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trading hub.
New daily cases in the Gulf state of about 9 million people tripled in the past month to about 354 per million this week, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data research programme.
The UAE does not release location data for infections, making it difficult to determine if Dubai, which relaxed restrictions early on, has been the hardest hit by the recent surge.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.2%, weighed down by a 1.2% fall in petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries2010.SE and a 0.6% decrease in the kingdom’s largest lender, National Commercial Bank.
Unemployment in Saudi Arabia fell in the third quarter of 2020 to 14.9% from 15.4% in the second quarter, official data in the world’s biggest oil exporter showed on Friday.
In Abu Dhabi, the index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 1.2% gain in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
The Qatari index slipped 0.1%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar falling 0.4%.
Kuwait’s blue-chip index rose 0.6%, with all its financial shares trading higher, including National Bank of Kuwait, which was up 0.5%.
Kuwait’s central bank allowed banks to distribute dividends to shareholders based on their 2020 financial statements and net profit.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))