Gulf markets track global fall, unrest hits Egypt

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DUBAI/CAIRO: A drop in global shares weighed on Gulf markets on Monday, dragging Abu Dhabi’s bourse to an eight-week low, and concerns over political instability weighed on Egyptian stocks.

Abu Dhabi’s index fell 0.9 percent to its lowest close since May 31.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi lost 1.3 percent, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank dropped 5.2 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank declined 2.6 percent.

Political brinkmanship in Washington over the US debt ceiling hit world stocks on Monday and pushed money into safe-haven gold and Swiss francs, ending a brief relief rally over Greece’s second bailout package.

"Global markets will set the tone for the whole region," said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Investments. "There shouldn’t be too much pressure because there’s no reason for it to go down too much."

Investors in Saudi Arabia locked in gains ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, as global woes weighed. The index fell 0.8 percent, halting four sessions of gains.

"We think this (pre-Ramadan decline) is caused by a combination of investors selling shares to raise money to cover high spending during the month and other investors realizing gains in anticipation of a fall in share prices during Ramadan," said Paul Gamble of Jadwa Investment in a note.

Nine of the 10 largest stocks fell, with SABB bank losing 3.4 percent and Al-Rajih Bank losing 1 percent.

In Egypt, worries over continued political instability weighed on the bourse after demonstrators trying to march to the Defense Ministry on Saturday clashed with opponents.

The main index slipped 0.6 percent. All but six stocks fell on the 30-constituent index.

"The market is affected by the political scene and what happened over the weekend," said Chamel Fahmy of Pharos Securities. "Foreign institutions along with regional institutions are shying away from the market."

In Dubai, the index fell 0.7 percent with bellwether Emaar Properties accounting for almost a third of total shares traded. The developer lost 2 percent.

Emirates NBD gained 1.2 percent, after reporting an 87 percent surge in second-quarter earnings.

In Kuwait, the index fell 0.3 percent, ending a four-session gain, and volumes slumped to a two-week low.

The benchmark had recovered some gains from a fall last week triggered by economic and regulatory concerns but is down 12.8 percent in 2011.

Bucking the downtrend, Oman’s Bank Dhofar lifted the index following a favorable court ruling.

The lender, rising 7 percent, said the court overruled an order for the bank to pay 26.1 million rials ($67.8 million) in a suit by Oman International Bank . The latter ended flat.

Muscat’s index gained 0.2 percent, rising from Sunday’s four-week low.

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