MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks ease as oil slides on Iran deal

Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:06am EST

* All bourses except Qatar in the red

* Oil price decline leads to profit-taking

* But markets may bounce back

* Dubai capped by chart resistance ahead of Expo announcement

* Egypt posts biggest decline since Oct. 28

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Most Gulf bourses fell on Monday as oil markets reacted to the breakthrough nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which caused the price of Brent crude to slip 1.8 percent.

The deal is not intended to let more of Iran's oil into the market, the White House said, but an easing of the ban on European shipping insurance may help smooth crude exports to Iran's big Asian customers.

Gulf oil exporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, have profited from tightness in the oil market caused by the sanctions against Iran. So fears of a supply increase from Iran triggered profit-taking in regional stock markets, said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.

"The expectations of higher oil prices going forwards will be muted," he said.

The indexes in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait both fell 0.5 percent; all Gulf markets dropped except Qatar.

Some analysts, however, believe the stock markets have overreacted and could bounce back soon.

"I think it was just a knee-jerk reaction that was not based on any fundamentals," said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Saudi investment firm MASIC.

The deal with Iran only marked the beginning of a long process and there is no immediate threat of increased supply, he noted. Even if Iranian oil does come back to the market in large quantities, it will not necessarily cause a steep enough fall in prices to damage the big Gulf economies, other analysts said.

"I think the markets will reassess the situation in the coming days, if not tomorrow," Sfakianakis said.

Qatar was buoyed by strength in Vodafone Qatar, which jumped 5.6 percent. The main index edged up 0.2 percent.

EGYPT DROPS

Egypt's index posted its biggest daily loss since Oct. 28, falling 1.2 percent and continuing a decline triggered by a series of deadly political clashes last week.

Late on Sunday, the army-backed government passed a law making it illegal to hold demonstrations without the approval of the police and banning protests in places of worship, a move rights groups condemned as a blow to political freedom.

In another move that caused unease, the Cairo government on Monday suspended rice exports, less than a week after issuing licences to sell the grain abroad.

Meanwhile, Dubai's index declined 0.3 percent as it continued to trade in a narrow band just below the major resistance level of 2,900 points days ahead of the Nov. 27 decision on whether it will host the Expo 2020 world fair.

The emirate hopes that by winning its bid, it will be able to boost economic growth and solidify its status as a regional hub for trade, logistics, travel and tourism.

MONDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.5 percent to 8,347 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 10,341 points.

EGYPT

* The index fell 1.2 percent to 6,356 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 2,869 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 3,815 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 1,194 points.

OMAN

* The index slid 0.2 percent to 6,752 points.

KUWAIT

* The index fell 0.5 percent to 7,837 points.

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