March 26, 2020 / 12:13 PM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most major Gulf stocks decline, but banks boost Saudi

    * Top lender FAB weighs on Abu Dhabi 
    * All Saudi Arabian banks gain but one
    * Saudi, Egypt reduce trading hours temporarily

    By Ateeq Shariff
    March 26 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf shares lost steam on
Thursday, ending a two-day rally triggered by the giant $2
trillion stimulus package in the United States to mitigate the
economic blow from the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

    In Abu Dhabi, the index sank 3.8%, with the country's
largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and telecoms
firm  Etisalat dropping 5% and 4.9%, respectively.
    Dubai's main share index slipped 0.8%. The United
Arab Emirates' (UAE) largest sharia-compliant lender Dubai
Islamic Bank fell 3.1%, while Emaar Malls
was down 3.6%.
    The UAE will halt all public transport and restrict people's
movements in the evening for a weekend nationwide disinfection
campaign starting Thursday to curb the spread of the new
coronavirus.
    The Qatari index lost 0.7%, as Qatar National Bank
 declined 3.5% and Qatar Islamic Bank eased
1.4%.
    The Gulf state temporarily closed all in-person money
exchange and transfer services from March 26 to limit the spread
of the coronavirus, its state news agency said on Wednesday.

    The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has recorded nearly
2,500 coronavirus cases, with eight deaths. Saudi Arabia has the
highest tally of infections at 900.
    Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, advanced
1.9%, extending gains for a third session, led by banking
shares. Al Rajhi Bank increased 1.7%, while National
Commercial Bank was up 2.7%.
    The kingdom, which reduced trading hours temporarily for all
listed securities, reported its second coronavirus death and
tightened a nationwide curfew on Wednesday.
    Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.5%. El Sewedy
Electric increased 2.5% and Cleopatra Hospital
 ended 3.1% higher.
    Egypt, which has declared a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for
two weeks from Wednesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus,
also reduced its trading hours for the same period.

 SAUDI ARABIA          rose 1.9% to 6,327 points
 ABU DHABI            slid 3.8% to 3,771 points
 DUBAI                  lost 0.8% to 1,809 points
 QATAR                down 0.7% to 8,479 points
 EGYPT                  was up 0.5% to 9,913 points
 BAHRAIN              added 0.3% to 1,389 points
 OMAN                 slipped 0.5% to 3,539 points
 KUWAIT               declined 1.1% to 5,281 points
 
 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark
Potter)
  
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