DUBAI, June 11 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market may start the week with losses after the central bank of the United Arab Emirates ordered UAE banks to apply enhanced due diligence to any accounts they hold with six Qatari banks.
The order came as the UAE told local banks to stop dealing with 59 individuals and 12 entities with alleged links to Qatar and to freeze all their assets.
The six Qatari banks - Qatar National Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank , Barwa Bank IPO-BABK.QA, Masraf Al Rayan and Doha Bank - did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Although the UAE stopped short of imposing a blanket ban on bank dealings with Qatar, its move could have much the same effect if UAE banks - and perhaps those in other countries - cut back their exposure to Qatari institutions for fear of getting caught up in the region’s diplomatic crisis.
Qatari banks have around 60 billion riyals ($16.5 billion) in funding in the form of customer and interbank deposits from other Gulf states, according to SICO Bahrain, and they account for a little over half of the Qatari stock market’s value.
Qatari banks are expected to be able to obtain funds from their central bank if needed, but any pull-out of deposits could still be awkward for them.
“Last week some investors saw the sharp falls in share prices as an opportunity to buy some banks because valuations are good, but the weekend news developments put banks in a tough spot,” said one regional portfolio manager. He said he expected foreign funds to be sellers in Qatar on Sunday.
Last week the Doha index shed 7.1 percent.
Other markets in the region have suffered little or no damage from the diplomatic crisis; Saudi Arabia’s index has been supported by the approach of index compiler MSCI’s June 20 review on whether to study upgrading Riyadh to emerging market status.
But with Brent oil closing last week below $50 a barrel, down 4 percent on the week, investors may stay cautious. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)