September 17, 2018 / 8:03 AM / 8 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets hit by concern about new U.S. tariff risk

DUBAI, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Gulf stocks opened lower on Monday as investors worried about reports the United States was preparing a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports.

Such a move would set up a possible escalation in the trade dispute between the two world powers.

After closing at a new six-month low on Sunday, stocks in Saudi Arabia failed to recover on Monday. Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the largest listed company in the Gulf, opened 1.7 percent down, with Al Rajhi Bank falling 0.9 percent.

The Saudi index slid 0.7 percent in early trading.

Gulf markets followed the earlier slide in Asian shares. U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to announce new tariffs on about $200 billion of Chinese imports as early as Monday, a senior administration official told Reuters.

In Dubai, Emaar Properties sank 2.1 percent, reversing an earlier gain.

It follows the United Arab Emirates’s approval on Sunday of a law allowing retired expatriates to stay in the country with renewable five-year visas if they meet conditions, such as investment in property worth 2 million dirhams ($544,514) or financial savings of 1 million dirhams.

“It’s obviously a positive development from a long-term perspective for the UAE real estate sector. Near-term, the sentiment in the stock market remains weak and don’t expect much reaction on UAE real estate stocks from this announcement,” said Ayub Ansari, senior analyst at SICO in Bahrain.

Emirates NBD opened 1 percent down. The Dubai index was down 1.0 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, First Abu Dhabi Bank fell 1.4 percent, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped by the same amount.

The Abu Dhabi index was 0.9 percent down.

Qatar National Bank, the largest bank in the Middle East and Africa, dipped by 1.4 percent, while Industries Qatar fell 1.1 percent.

The Qatar index sank by 0.6 percent. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Tom Arnold and Andrew Torchia Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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