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Markets

Most Gulf stocks ease

• Riyad Bank sees biggest fall since May • Egypt snaps seven sessions of losses
25 Mar 2021

DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday, tracking global equities as coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and potential US tax hikes hit risk appetite.

“The concerns of a third COVID-19 wave in Europe is weighing down on demand expectations thus negatively affecting energy prices and oil prices which are particularly sensitive in the Gulf region,” said James Campion, private banker at Ourea.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.3%, pressured by a 4.2% fall in Riyad Bank, which went ex-dividend.

However, insurer Alinma Tokio Marine surged about 10% after two of its major shareholders agreed not to transfer or dispose any of its shares for a five-year period.

In Dubai, the main share index retreated 0.7%, with top lender Emirates NBD losing 1.4% and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties declining 1.1%.

Amid growing competition among Gulf states to position themselves for a post-oil future, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum on Tuesday announced plans to restructure his government to make it more efficient.

Dubai’s economy, which is the region’s most diversified, was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. S&P estimated that GDP contracted 10.8% last year.

But, in Qatar, the benchmark bucked the trend to finish 0.2% higher, helped by a 1.2% rise in the Gulf’s largest lender Qatar National Bank.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index rebounded 2.2%, snapping seven sessions of losses.

Commercial International Bank, the country’s top lender, gained 2%, while tobacco monopoly Eastern Company jumped 6%.

So far this month Egypt’s index has lost over 7%, whereas in the past few sessions the bourse’s sharp declines were attributed to individual traders’ activities.