Gulf stocks decline amid coronavirus worries

Major Gulf stock markets fell in early trade on Sunday following a decline in oil prices amid mounting economic worries from the spreading coronavirus, with Saudi Arabia leading the losers after a string of poor corporate earnings.

On Friday, Brent crude fell 13 cents to settle at $58.16 a barrel as authorities worldwide imposed travel restrictions to China, where the total number of coronavirus deaths reached 304 as of late Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark share price index fell 1.3% on Sunday led by a 1.1% loss at Al Rjahi Bank.

Alinma Bank shed 3.5% after it said its annual net profit declined by 11.3%, while Saudi Arabian Mining lost 2.7%. On Thursday the Saudi miner reported an annual net loss of 739.5 million riyals ($197.14 million) compared with a profit of 1.85 billion riyals a year earlier.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco was down 0.4% at 34 riyals.

The Dubai index slipped 0.7% with its biggest bank Emirates NBD falling 1.5% and blue-chip developer Emaaar Properties losing 0.1%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was down 0.3% led by a 0.5% fall in United Arab Emirates’ largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Bucking the trend, International Holding surged a further 5.3% for its eleventh consecutive day of gain.

Last week, the aquaculture firm posted higher annual profit and said it would initiate talks to acquire Al Seer Marine Supplies & Equipment.

The Qatari index was also down 0.3%. Qatar Gas Transport fell 2.1%, while lender Masraf Al Rayan shed 0.7%. ($1 = 3.7511 riyals)