May 7, 2018 / 8:23 AM / 6 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Largest Gulf markets edge down on worries about Iran, China-U.S. trade tensions

DUBAI, May 7 (Reuters) - The main Gulf markets edged into negative territory on Monday, as uncertainty about an Iranian nuclear deal and Sino-U.S. trade tensions weighed on investor sentiment.

The clock is ticking down on a May 12 deadline United States President Donald Trump has set for Europeans to “fix” the deal with Iran over its nuclear program or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief for Iran.

Meanwhile, fears over trade tensions between the United States and China have been simmering for weeks.

Gulf markets were generally bearish despite oil prices hitting their highest in more than three years.

The Saudi index was down 0.2 percent in early trading.

Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Electricity Company were the biggest drags on the index, slipping 0.2 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

National Gas and Industrialisation (GASCO) fell 0.8 percent after it announced a 40.2 percent drop in first-quarter net profit.

Saudi Arabia’s largest food products company, Savola Group was the biggest gainer after it said late on Sunday it had purchased a 51 percent stake in Al Kabeer Group of Companies for 565.5 million riyals ($150.8 million). The impact of the deal on Savola’s results would be positive once the deal is completed during the second half of the year, it said.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.1 percent, hurt by a 1.5 percent dip in index bellwether Emaar Properties, which was down 1.5 percent in early trade. Emaar Malls was also down, falling 1.0 percent.

Dubai Investments fell 1.1 percent in early trade despite the company reporting a rise in first-quarter profit to 362 million dirhams ($98.6 million), up from 289 million dirhams in the year earlier period.

The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.8 percent. One of the weights on the index was Aldar Properties, down 0.5 percent. Earlier on Monday the developer said it had reached a deal with Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) to acquire real estate assets worth 3.7 billion dirhams. The move is the latest sign of consolidation of state-controlled entities in the emirate.

The Qatari index was down 0.1 percent. Industries Qatar, the Middle East’s second-biggest petrochemicals company and holding the largest weighting on the Qatar index, was up 0.7 percent. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) (Editing by Alison Williams)

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