April 12, 2018 / 7:48 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most of Gulf hit by Syria tensions but Saudi stabilises

DUBAI, April 12 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets dropped in early trade on Thursday as fears of an imminent strike on Syria unsettled bourses globally, but Saudi Arabian stocks stabilised after their sell-off late on the previous day.

The geopolitical tensions have sent the Brent oil price soaring as high as $73.09 a barrel, a multi-year high, and strong oil prices are in themselves positive for Gulf economies.

The Saudi index was up 0.2 percent after half an hour, after plunging 1.9 percent on Wednesday in the final hour of trade when U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that missiles “will be coming” to Syria.

On Thursday morning, food firm Savola Group rose 2.3 percent and property firm Dar Al Arkan, again the most heavily traded stock, climbed 2.5 percent.

Retailer Jarir Marketing dropped 0.8 percent after reporting a marginal fall in first-quarter estimated net profit to 219.1 million ($58.4 million), in line with analysts’ estimates.

“The escalation of the geopolitical crisis will remain an overhang as we head towards the weekend,” said Nishit Lakhotia, head of research at SICO Research.

Other Gulf markets were in negative territory as they only had a chance to react to the Trump tweet in Thursday. The Dubai index was down 0.9 percent, hit by property stocks and financials; Emaar Development fell 1.9 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank was down 0.6 percent.

Theme-park operator DXB Entertainments initially rose after reporting a 45 percent jump in first-quarter visitor arrivals, but then gave up its gains.

The Abu Dhabi index was down 1.0 percent, hit by weakness in banking stocks. First Abu Dhabi Bank slipped 1.2 percent.

Qatari’s index was down 0.7 percent, with Commercial Bank sinking 3.7 percent. (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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