March 20, 2019 / 8:19 AM / in a month

MIDEAST STOCKS-Global mood pulls down most major Gulf markets

March 20 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market dropped on Wednesday as its banks fell, while most major Gulf markets also slid, mirroring global cues ahead of a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve on its interest rate plans for the year.

Major Gulf countries have their currencies pegged with the U.S. dollar and any decision by the Federal Reserve will directly impact currency performance of those countries.

Saudi’s index fell 0.4 percent from the multi-year closing high it hit after entering FTSE Russell’s emerging-market index on Monday.

Riyad Bank slipped 1.8 percent as the lender traded ex-dividend, while Saudi’s largest lender National Commercial Bank shed 1 percent.

The kingdom’s largest food products company Savola Group fell 1.6 percent after it swung to a full-year net loss. The firm said it had an exceptional expense of 100.7 million riyals in 2018 coming from a guarantee given to an associate’s unit.

Qatar’s index was down 0.4 percent.

Energy shipping and transport company Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat) and telecommunications firm Ooredoo dropped 5 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. Both the firms are trading ex-dividend in this session.

In Dubai, the index decreased 0.4 percent pulled down by real estate shares. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shed 0.8 percent while its unit Emaar Malls fell 1.7 percent.

Emaar Malls proposed a cash dividend of 10 fils per share for 2018, unchanged from its dividend for 2017.

The Abu Dhabi index inched up 0.1 percent, with Waha Capital adding 3.1 percent and RAK Properties rising 3 percent. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Keith Weir)

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