March 9, 2020 / 1:30 PM / 4 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Middle East's equities dive as oil prices plunge

    * Saudi Aramco closes down at 28.35 riyals
    * 193 of 198 Saudi stocks fall
    * Qatar sees biggest intra-day fall in two decades
    * Air Arabia slumps after Saudi travel ban 

    By Maqsood Alam
    March 9 (Reuters) - Equity markets across the Middle East nosedived on
Monday, extending their losses from the previous session, as oil prices fell
after Saudi Arabia slashed its official selling price for crude for April and
planned to raise production significantly next month.
    The Saudi move, which came after Russia refused to support deeper cuts in
oil output cope with the outbreak of coronavirus, caused Brent futures to drop
22% to $37.05 a barrel by 1000 GMT.
    "The Saudi reaction to the breakdown (with Russia) was to revert to the 2014
playbook. By precipitating an oil price collapse, they are looking to end their
subsidy of higher-cost producers," said Akber Khan, head of asset management at
Al Rayan Investment. "This is a painful strategy that requires time to play out
and failed on the previous attempt."
    Saudi's index closed down 7.8% in its fourth straight day of losses,
leaving its year-to-date loss at 24.7% this year so far.
    Saudi Aramco ended down 5.5% at 28.35 riyals ($7.55).
    Arqaam Capital cut its Aramco rating to hold on Monday, citing the company's
exposure to the oil price cut and the impact on its 2020 earnings.
    Al Rajhi Bank was down 8.1% and Saudi Basic Industries
down 9.1%.
    The Qatari index dropped 9.7%, its biggest daily loss in at least two
decades. Qatar National Bank plunged 10%.
    The Dubai index fell 8.3% to its lowest since April 2013. Lenders
Dubai Islamic Bank shed 9.4% and Emirates NBD 10%.
    Air Arabia closed down 6.1% after Saudi Arabia suspended
travelling from UAE.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index ended 8.1% down, its biggest intra-day loss
since November 2009. First Abu Dhabi Bank retreated 8.5%.
    Dana Gas slumped 10%, even though it said that its long-term gas
sale contracts were unaffected by falling oil prices.
    Kuwait's premier index dived 10%. National Bank of Kuwait
dropped 11.3%.
    Egypt's index was down 7.3% with Commercial International Bank
Egypt losing 6.7%.

 SAUDI ARABIA          plunged 7.8% to 6,316 points
 ABU DHABI            fell 8.1% to 4,039 points
 DUBAI                  lost 8.3% to 2,079 points
 QATAR                was down 9.7% to 8,160 points
 EGYPT                  dropped 7.3% to 10,983 points
 BAHRAIN              slipped 5.8% to 1,472 points
 OMAN                 fell 5.6% to 3,772 points
 KUWAIT               plunged 10.3% to 5,159 points
 ($1 = 3.7534 riyals)

 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Nafisa Eltahir
in Dubai; editing by Larry King)
  
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