September 25, 2019 / 9:08 AM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets drop as global political uncertainty hits oil prices

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf stock markets fell on Wednesday as oil prices eased, while investors offloaded risky bets after an impeachment inquiry was launched against U.S. President Donald Trump, stoking political uncertainty in the world’s largest economy.

Oil prices fell for a second session on worries that fuel demand could drop after Trump doused recent optimism over China-U.S. trade talks.

Both crude benchmarks fell to their lowest levels since before the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sept. 14.

Brent crude futures were down $1.03 cents at $62.07 a barrel, as of 0811 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped to $56.49 a barrel.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday called for a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, accusing him of seeking foreign help to smear Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of next year’s election.

Tensions in the Middle East also suppressed sentiment after a Saudi minister said Iran was probably behind the recent attacks on the oil-producing country, and that Saudi Arabia would consider a military response once the investigation was completed.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged down 0.3% to snap a four-session winning streak. Al Rajhi Bank decreased 0.6%, while Samba Financial Group shed 0.7%.

Dubai’s index slipped 0.2% with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties dropping 0.4%.

Union Properties extended losses to a second session. Chairman Naser Butti Omair Bin Yousef Al Mheiri resigned on Wednesday and the board plans to meet on Thursday to consider his resignation, the company said.

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged down 0.1%, pressured by a 7.3% drop in National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiwain.

A weakening property market in the United Arab Emirates is likely to put more pressure on the asset quality of the banking sector, Fitch Ratings agency said.

Qatar’s benchmark index edged a tick higher after rebounding from four sessions of declines. The Gulf’s largest insurer Qatar Insurance climbed 3.7% and Qatar Islamic Bank rose 1%.

Rating agency Moody’s on Tuesday said Qatar banking sector outlook remained stable as infrastructure spending drives the economic growth. (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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