Saudi Arabia stocks fall to 8-month low on wide sell-off

Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell to an eight-month low on Wednesday as most shares turned red, wiping out all its gains this year.

Other major Gulf markets also dropped. The Saudi index dropped 1.8 percent with 168 stocks falling and just six stocks rising.

Market heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank declined 2 percent and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries shed 3 percent.

With Wednesday’s losses, the index was now down 0.2 percent since the start of this year, reversing sharp gains early in 2019.

It had erased all its gains for the year, which had seen it jump as much as 20 percent by May, led by foreign investors who have been net buyers every month this year as Saudi stocks joined the MSCI and FTSE Russell emerging market indexes.

Since May, however, the market has been in a downward trend as the U.S.-China trade dispute and regional geopolitical concerns weighed on the index, and it remains under pressure with the kingdom’s economy at risk of contraction and Middle East funds planning to reduce investment in Saudi Arabia.

Dubai’s index was down 0.3 percent with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties dropping 0.6 percent.

Contractor Arabtec Holding lost 0.6 percent, easing back from an 11.3 percent gain in the last session after it announced a potential merger with Abu Dhabi’s private rival Trojan Holding.

Property prices in Dubai have tumbled 25-35 percent since mid-2014 and are expected to further decline this year and next amid a slowing economy and an oversupply of housing units.

In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.3 percent with Emirates Telecommunications Group losing 0.6 percent and First Abu Dhabi Bank shedding 0.3 percent.

In Qatar, the index was down 0.2 percent with the Gulf’s largest lender Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar falling 1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Source: Reuters