January 5, 2020 / 1:15 PM / 24 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait leads Gulf losses as U.S.-Iran tensions escalate, Aramco lowest since IPO

    * Saudi Arabian banks slide
    * Aramco closes at 34.6 riyals
    * Egypt hits its lowest in 3 months
    * Kuwait sees biggest fall in over 2 years

    By Ateeq Shariff
    Jan 5 (Reuters) - Gulf bourses saw steep declines on Sunday,
with Kuwait falling the most following tensions between the
United States and Iran, while outside the Gulf Egypt was also
hard hit as all its shares ended lower.
    Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed on
Friday in a U.S. drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport,
seen by Tehran as an act of war that risks regional
conflagration.
    "Not surprising, the Gulf markets are reacting negatively
given we are in the middle of all the geopolitics action," said
Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital.
"We fear this can be an overhang over the next few months and
not just a one day or week thing." 
    Saudi Arabia's benchmark index lost 2.4%, weighed
down by a 2.1% drop in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.7% fall
in state-owned Aramco to 34.6 riyals, which hit its
lowest intraday level since last month's market debut.
    Egypt's blue-chip index dived 4.4%, touching its
lowest since September 2019. The country's largest lender
Commercial International Bank closed down 1.9% and
Eastern Company dived 4.9%.
    In Kuwait, the index plunged 4.1% with all stocks in
the red including Kuwait Finance House, down 5.1%, and
National Bank of Kuwait, off 2.8%.
    The Dubai index tumbled 3.1%, hurt by a 3.1% slide
in its largest lender Emirates NBD and a 3.7% decline
in Emaar Properties.
    Abu Dhabi's index lost 1.4%, with the United Arab
Emirates' largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank
retreating 1.2%, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was
down 3.3%.
    The Qatar index eased 2.1% with all its 20 stocks
closing lower. Lender Masraf Al Rayan fell 2.7% and
Qatar National Bank declined 1.4%.
         
 SAUDI ARABIA          down 2.4% to 8,194 points
 ABU DHABI            dropped 1.4% to 5,028 points
 DUBAI                  declined 3.1% to 2,684 points
 QATAR                fell 2.1% to 10,286 points
 EGYPT                  down 4.4% to 13,284 points
 BAHRAIN              lost 2.3% to 1,576 points
 OMAN                 down 0.3% to 3,993 points
 KUWAIT               plunged 4.1% to 6,692 points
 
($1 = 3.7507 riyals)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru
Editing by David Holmes)
  
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