Major Gulf stocks fall, following global shares slide

Major Gulf stocks retreated on Thursday, mirroring a decline in global shares and oil prices, as investors remained anxious about the spread of a new flu-like virus in China.

Deaths from China’s new coronavirus rose to 17 on Wednesday, with more than 540 cases confirmed, leading Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, to close transportation networks and urge citizens not to leave as fears rose of the contagion spreading.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 82, or 1.3%, to $62.39 a barrel by 0400 GMT, and earlier dropped to the lowest since Dec. 4, after falling 2.1% the previous session.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index .TASI dropped 0.7%, led by a 3.2% slide in Saudi Telecom 7010.SE , a day after it reported a 22% plunge in fourth-quarter net profit.

Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE eased 0.5%. Saudi Aramco 2222.SE lost 0.4%.

EFG Hermes on Wednesday initiated coverage of Aramco with a “neutral” rating, in line with most other brokerages, and set a target price of 34 riyals ($9.06) per share.

Yanbu National Petrochemical 2290.SE declined 2.9% after posting a lower fourth-quarter net profit.

The Abu Dhabi index .ADI opened 0.5% down in early trade with telecoms company Etisalat ETISALAT.AD shedding 0.6% and National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain NBQ.AD tumbling 4%.

In Dubai, the index .DFMGI was down 0.2% as Emirates NBD ENBD.DU dropped 0.7% and Emaar Properties EMAR.DU slipped 0.5%.

It saw some support from Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU, which gained over 1%, as the sharia-compliant lender completed acquisition of unlisted Noor Bank.