March 5, 2018 / 7:57 AM / 10 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets hit by fears of global trade war, Qatar leads losses

DUBAI, March 5 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly weak early on Monday, taking their cue from Asia where investors dumped shares amid fears of global trade war that could harm the outlook for global growth.

Qatar shares were down 0.9 percent in early trade, with two of its biggest stocks going ex-dividend.

Industries Qatar plunged 5.3 percent and telecom firm Ooredoo dropped 2.4 percent as both went ex-dividend.

Other markets were also on weak footing, with Saudi stocks dropping 0.3 percent, hurt by banking and telecom shares. Banque Saudi Fransi plunged 3.4 percent after missing forecasts for quarterly profit. Banque Saudi Fransi, the kingdom’s fifth-largest lender by assets, posted a 13.1 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, but missing average forecasts by three analysts.

“The session could see pressure on Banque Saudi Fransi results that came way below forecasts, but overall index decline should be marginal,” said Khaled Feda, senior research manager at Alistithmar Capital. “Banking sector was the main driver for market gains year-to-date, so part of the decline is due to profit taking due to some concerns among investors over increasing zakat liabilities as well as IFRS [International Financial Reporting Standards]reclassification that will push banks to take significant provisions that would affect shareholder equity.”

Saudi Arabia’s 175 listed companies are being required to adopt IFRS from the start of 2017.

Saudi Arabian Mining Company, the majority owner of the world’s largest fully integrated aluminium facility, extended losses for a second straight day on news about the tariffs. It was down 0.88 percent in morning trade.

“Investors are waiting to see how international markets react to these US moves on tariffs amd are just cautious,” said Marie Salem, director of Capital Markets at FFA Dubai.

President Donald Trump has announced plans to impose a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imports. He will make a final decision by April 11.

The Dubai index was down 0.1 percent, but the Abu Dhabi index was flat.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Marwa Rashad

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