June 18, 2018 / 8:02 AM / 10 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Waha Capital down in Abu Dhabi, Air Arabia drops in Dubai

DUBAI, June 18 (Reuters) - Amid muted trading activity, the Abu Dhabi stock market shed value in early trade on Monday, mirroring a drop in Asian shares, while Dubai was flat.

Markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were closed because of the Eid holiday, which started last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump fuelled trade tensions by going ahead with tariffs on Chinese imports, prompting Beijing to immediately respond in kind. Asian shares were down on Monday and oil prices came under pressure, in particular after China threatened duties on American crude imports.

Brent crude futures were down 0.33 percent, at on Monday at $73.22 per barrel at 0717 GMT.

The Abu Dhabi exchange was down 0.9 percent in early trade, with stocks in financial institutions mostly down. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank , Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank , Union National Bank and heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank were all down in the first hours of trading on Monday. FAB, down 2 percent, posted the biggest loss.

Investment firm Waha Capital was down 1.7 percent. Sources told Reuters last week that the Abu Dhabi firm had abandoned plans to raise a $300 million private equity fund, as investor demand for Middle East private equity funds has been hurt by a crisis of confidence at the region’s biggest buyout firm, Abraaj, which is battling allegations it misused funds.

In Dubai, the exchange was flat, with blue-chip Emaar Development up 2 percent. The worst performer in Dubai was Air Arabia, down 2.7 percent.

The company is linked to Abraaj, whose founder, Arif Naqvi, is one of the airline’s board directors. The low cost carrier is also believed to have invested in Abraaj, market sources said. Air Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Davide Barbuscia Editing by Keith Weir

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