Gulf stocks plunge further as virus fears grow

Major  Gulf stocks slid on Wednesday, with Saudi leading the losses, mirroring declines in global stocks as concerns about the spread of the coronavirus grew after the United States warned Americans to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index was down 1.3% in early trade, as all its banking shares were in the red including Al Rajhi Bank, which fell 1.1%.

Elsewhere, state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco dipped 0.9%, while Arab National Bank fell 3.2%.

Dubai’s main share index declined 1.2%. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties decreased 1.4% and Emirates NBD Bank was down 1.5%.

Amongst others, Air Arabia extended losses from the previous session, to trade 2.8% lower. On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates suspended all flights to and from Iran for at least a week due to the spread of the coronavirus in the Islamic republic.

The UAE has recorded 13 cases since Jan. 28; the latest two are an Iranian tourist and his wife.

The Qatari index fell 1.1%, dragged down by a 6.9% plunge in Qatar Insurance as the Gulf country’s largest insurer by market value traded ex-dividend.

Qatar Islamic Bank eased 1.3% and Qatar Fuel retreated 2%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.1% with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank shedding 1.8% and International Holding losing 0.9%.