February 27, 2020 / 8:26 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf stocks slide as coronavirus pandemic fears grow

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Most bourses in the Gulf fell further on Thursday as a rise in new coronavirus cases outside of China heightened fears of a pandemic.

Governments ramped up measures to battle a global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China, the source of the outbreak, for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.

The Dubai's index lost 1.1%, extending losses for a fifth consecutive day. Emaar Properties fell 1.7% and Dubai Islamic Bank opened 1.3% down.

Air Arabia, the United Arab Emirates' only listed airline, dropped a further 2.1%. On Tuesday, the UAE suspended all flights to and from Iran for at least a week due to the spread of the coronavirus in the Islamic republic.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index retreated 0.9%. Al Rajhi Bank decreased 0.9% and hotel operator and developer Jabal Omar Development declined 3.6%.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended foreigners' entry for the Umrah pilgrimage and tourism from countries where the new coronavirus has spread.

Elsewhere, travel operator Seera Group plunged 5.4%, to become the top loser, while tourism firm Al Hokair Group was down 2.1%.

In Qatar, the index slipped 0.3% as Qatar Islamic Bank eased 1.4%, while Commercial Bank was dwon 1.3%.

The index, however, found some support from Qatar Navigation (Milaha), which advanced 3.2%. On Wednesday, the shipping and logistics group posted an increase in annual profit to 547 million riyals ($150.25 million), up from 516 million riyals year ago.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.9% with First Abu Dhabi Bank gaining 2.1%. On Monday, the lender saw its biggest decline in over nine months following the rapid spread of coronavirus cases outside China.

Kuwait now has 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Reuters reported citing a health ministry official.

Kuwait was closed for a public holiday. ($1 = 3.6405 Qatar riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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