June 23, 2019 / 8:11 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets lower as regional geopolitical tensions worsen

DUBAI, June 23 (Reuters) - Most Gulf markets opened lower on Sunday, weighed down by deteriorating political relations in the region and after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would impose new sanctions on Iran.

Trump on Saturday said additional sanctions would be imposed on Monday but that he wanted to make a deal to bolster Iran’s flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone last week by Iran.

The Saudi index, which fell in the previous two sessions, was down 0.4 percent, with many banking shares sliding.

Al-Rajhi Bank was down 0.6 percent, while National Commercial Bank was 1.0 percent lower.

The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.9 percent, hurt by a 1.6 percent drop in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender.

On Wednesday, First Abu Dhabi Bank said that it would close its sole branch in Qatar, citing Doha’s regulatory actions against the bank..

Earlier in June, Qatar placed further restrictions on the bank as it continues an investigation into alleged currency manipulation that it opened after the UAE and other Arab states began a boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.

First Abu Dhabi Bank said Qatari actions have no impact on its business outside Qatar and the Doha branch contributed less than 0.03% of its full-year 2018 net profit.

Also in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) slid 1.1 percent and developer Aldar Properties fell 0.5 percent.

In Dubai, the index shed 0.6 percent, weighed down by a 1.1 percent fall in Emaar Properties, the largest developer on the bourse.

Telecoms operator du fell 1.2 percent and developer DAMAC Properties was down 1.4 percent. (Editing by Louise Heavens)

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