DUBAI, March 13 A further slide in oil prices
may weigh on Gulf stock markets on Monday with Saudi Arabia's
index possibly underperforming its peers becuase of that
market's large petrochemical sector.
In Asian trade, Brent crude futures are down 0.7
percent at $51.02 a barrel, a fresh three-month low.
On Sunday the Saudi stock index lost 1.2 percent to
6,834 points, heading for a test of technical support at the
January low of 6,745 points.
Another concern for the markets is an increasing outlook for
U.S. monetary tightening. Global equity prices already reflect
the expected U.S. interest rate hike later this week, but
interest rate futures are now pricing in about a 50 percent
chance of another hike in June.
This may aid regional banks, particularly Saudi ones, that
could benefit from higher net interest margins, but it may slow
the Gulf's already tepid economic recovery and deter tourist
flows to and real estate investment in Dubai.
Among Saudi insurance shares, which have been active since
Sanad Cooperative Insurance said at the end of last
week that it was planning voluntary liquidation, Amana
Cooperative Insurance Co may attract interest after it
said its accumulated losses had been reduced below 50 percent of
Qatar Gas Transport goes ex-dividend on Monday,
which could pressure its share price.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)