March 22, 2020 / 1:18 PM / 6 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf stocks resume retreat; Egypt extends gains

    * UAE reports first deaths from coronavirus
    * 25 of 30 Egyptian stocks gain
    * Commercial Bank gains ahead of going ex-dividend

    By Ateeq Shariff
    March 22 (Reuters) - Most stock indexes in the Gulf closed
lower on Sunday, with Abu Dhabi leading the losses, as measures
by central banks to stem a coronavirus-induced financial rout
faded, though Egypt extended gains.
    More than 305,000 people have been infected by coronavirus
across the world and more than 13,000 have died, according to a
Reuters tally.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index declined 3.6%, dragged down
by a 4.4% slide in top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and
a 4.9% fall in telecoms firm Etisalat.
    Dubai's main share index ended 2.1% lower, with
Emirates NBD and developer Emaar Properties
tumbling 4.2% and 4.5% respectively.
    On Friday, the United Arab Emirates health ministry
announced its first two deaths from the virus, official UAE news
agency WAM reported, adding that both fatalities were people who
had existing medical conditions.
    Egypt's blue-chip index jumped 5.9%, with 25 of the
thirty stocks in the index rising, including heavyweight
Commercial International Bank, which advanced 4.6%.
    The country's central bank last week cut its main interest
rates by 300 basis points at an unscheduled meeting, describing
it as a pre-emptive move to support the economy.
    Saudi Arabia's benchmark index decreased 1.5%. Oil
giant Saudi Aramco eased 1.5%, while National
Commercial Bank tumbled 3.1%.
    Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $31.93 billion economic
support package, suspended all domestic flights, buses, taxis
and trains for 14 days from Saturday.
    The Qatari index edged up 0.2%. Commercial Bank
 gained 3.6%, ahead of going ex-dividend on Tuesday,
while Qatar Islamic Bank rose 1.2%.
    Gains were capped by losses at Qatar National Bank
, the Gulf's largest lender, which traded 1.4% down.
    Last week, Qatar said it would ban non-Qataris from entering
the country for two weeks as of Wednesday and announced measures
to support the economy, including providing 75 billion riyals
($20.6 billion) in financial incentives to the private sector.

    ** Kuwait and Oman were closed for a public holiday. 
 SAUDI ARABIA          lost 1.5% to 6,172 points
 ABU DHABI            slid 3.6% to 3,553 points
 DUBAI                  fell 2.1% to 1,782 points
 QATAR                edged up 0.2% to 8,589 points
 EGYPT                  up 5.9% to 9,751 points
 BAHRAIN              lost 1% to 1,395 points

($1 = 3.6415 Qatar riyals)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru
Editing by David Holmes)
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