March 16, 2020 / 3:08 PM / 22 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf stocks dive, Qatar gains on stimulus measures

    * Aramco closes down at 27.8 riyals
    * Yansab slips on ex-dividend
    * Jarir Marketing falls after showrooms shutdown
    * Stimulus plan boosts Qatari index

    By Maqsood Alam
    March 16 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf shares fell sharply on Monday as
stimulus measures, including rate cuts, failed to calm investors worried about
the economic damage from the coronavirus that has infected nearly 1,000 people
in the region.
    While Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates announced packages worth $13
billion and $27 billion, respectively on Saturday, Gulf central banks on Monday
took cue from the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates by 100
basis points to 0%-0.25% target range.  
    Qatar, however, bucked the trend as the government announced measures to
support the economy, including providing 75 billion riyals ($20.60 billion) in
financial incentives, and a plan to inject up to 10 billion riyals in the local
    Denting sentiment further were lower crude oil prices, with Brent crude
 dropping 10.6% to $30.27 a barrel by 1231 GMT.
    Saudi Arabia's index slipped 5.2%, with Al Rajhi Bank
falling 4.9%.
    Saudi Aramco closed 3.1% lower at 27.8 riyals ($7.41), a day after
it reported a 21% decline in its profit for 2019. 
    Jarir Marketing slumped 7.4% after announcing temporary shutdown
of showrooms in shopping centers and Yanbu National Petrochemical (Yansab)
 dived 9.1% as it traded ex-dividend.
    The Abu Dhabi index declined 7.8%, with First Abu Dhabi Bank
closing down 10%.
    Dubai's index plunged 6.2%, taking its loss in March so far to
    Dubai Islamic Bank, whose shareholders approved increasing foreign
ownership in the bank to 40%, dropped 8.5%. Emaar Properties fell
    Qatar's index rose 1.5% with Qatar Islamic Bank jumping 6.5%.
    "A broad package of measures was announced to ease the cash flow crunch
impacting much of the economy from COVID-19 related lockdown. The stimulus is
equivalent to 10% of GDP," said Akber Khan, director of asset management at
Qatar's Al Rayan Investment.
    "An injection to the stock market was also announced; assuming the
government does not account for 100% of daily volume, buying would continue for
several months", Khan added.
    Outside the Gulf, Egypt's dropped 7.1% with all but one stock
trading in the red. Commercial International Bank was down 6.1%.
 SAUDI ARABIA          fell 5.2% to 5,960
 ABU DHABI            slipped 7.8% to 3,548
 DUBAI                  lost 6.2% to 1,843
 QATAR                gained 1.5% to 8,431
 EGYPT                  dropped 7.1% to 9,429
 BAHRAIN              lost 1.4% to 1,395
 OMAN                 fell 1.8% to 3,682
 KUWAIT               declined 5% to 4,661
($1 = 3.7526 riyals)

 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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