June 24, 2019 / 1:30 PM / 24 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Geopolitical concerns continue to weigh on Saudi, Egypt extends losses

    * 10 of 11 Saudi banks slide
    * Zain Saudi plunges after towers sale cancelled 
    * Egypt falls for a fifth session
    * Top lender supports Abu Dhabi

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    June 24 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply
on Monday to drop for a fourth straight session as geopolitical
concerns in the Gulf region weighed, while Egypt's blue-chip
index also extended its losing streak.  
    Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi movement attacked Abha airport in
southern Saudi Arabia on Sunday, killing one person and wounding
21 others, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said.
    Long-time foes Iran and the U.S. have also come the closest
in years to a direct military confrontation in the past week
with the shooting down of a U.S. drone by Iran. U.S. President
Donald Trump aborted a retaliatory strike minutes before impact.

    Saudi's index fell 1.6% with 10 of its 11 banks
slipping. Al Rajhi Bank dropped 2.3%, while the
kingdom's biggest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries
 was down 2.7%.
    Telecommunications operator Zain Saudi plunged
6.7% after a sale and leaseback of its communication towers was
cancelled as the buyer IHS Holding was denied a licence from the
telecoms regulator.
    Egypt's blue-chip index lost 1.1%, its fifth
consecutive session of losses since closing higher on June 17,
the day Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed
Mursi died while on trial in a Cairo court.
    There have been calls for an inquiry into Mursi's death from
many organisations, including Amnesty International and the U.N.
Human Rights office.
    The country's largest lender, Commercial International Bank
, traded 1.3% lower while real estate investment firm
Talaat Mostafa Group was down 3.6%.
    Qatar's index also fell 0.4%, pushed down by banks,
with the market heavyweight lender Qatar National Bank
slipping 1.4% and Qatar Islamic Bank shedding 1.7%.
    But lenders boosted the Abu Dhabi index which was up
0.5% with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab
Emirates' largest lender, rebounding 1.1%.
    The lender has mostly lost ground in recent sessions after
Qatar had earlier in June placed further restrictions on the
bank as it continued an investigation into alleged currency
manipulation, opened after the UAE and other Arab states began a
boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.
    The bank subsequently said it would close its sole branch in
Qatar whose actions, it added, have no impact on its business
outside Qatar, the Doha branch contributing less than 0.03% of
its full-year 2018 net profit.
    In Dubai, the index closed unchanged from previous
session but most property stocks rose with blue-chip developer
Emaar Properties climbing 1.6%.
    Builder Arabtec Holding increased 0.7% after one
of its units secured an additional 315 million dirhams ($85.77
million) in a contract from Tecnicas Reunidas.
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)  
 SAUDI       The index         lost 1.6% to 8,599 points
 ARABIA      
 ABU DHABI   The index        was up 0.5% to 5,015 points
 DUBAI       The index          was flat at 2,640 points
 QATAR       The index        lost 0.4% to 10,505 points
 EGYPT       The index          lost 1.1% to 13,867 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        edged down 0.1% to 1,455 points
 OMAN        The index        lost 0.3% to 3,911 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 0.4% to 6,366 points
 
 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken
Ferris)
  
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