June 15, 2017 / 5:47 AM / in a month

MIDEAST STOCKS-Overnight crash in oil may drag Gulf lower

2 Min Read

DUBAI, June 15 (Reuters) - Crude oil prices crashed almost 4 percent overnight which may drag stock markets in the oil-exporting Gulf lower on Thursday, though Saudi Arabian banks could be resilient following the central bank's decision to raise only its reverse repo rate.

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday and forecast one more hike this year. The Saudi central bank responded by lifting its reverse repo rate, at which commercial banks deposit money with the central bank, by 25 bps to 1.25 percent but keeping its repo rate, used to lend money to banks, unchanged at 2.00 percent.

This is expected to be net positive for Saudi banks' margins, though the move has largely been priced in.

Kuwait's central bank decided to keep its discount rate flat, which may be modestly negative for banks there, while Qatar's central bank has not yet announced a response.

Brent crude futures fell to a November low of $46.74 on Wednesday and are now trading a little above $47 a barrel. This may be the biggest factor for Gulf markets on Thursday, dragging petrochemicals in particular lower.

Global equity markets in general are weak; S&P mini futures are down 0.3 percent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan has dropped 0.7 percent.

Morgan Stanley, however, has raised Dubai's Emaar Properties to overweight from equal weight with a price target of 10.80 dirhams, up 23 percent from the previous target price. Emaar, last at 7.90 dirhams, has been strong since it said it would spin off its local real estate unit and offer its shares to the public, giving the proceeds to its shareholders as a dividend. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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