March 26, 2018 / 8:37 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets subdued as investors take stock of missile attacks

DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - Stock exchanges in the Gulf were mainly subdued early on Monday as investors digested news of missiles fired overnight at Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy.

Saudi air defences shot down seven ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi forces on Sunday, with debris killing a man in Riyadh, the first death in the capital during a Saudi-led coalition’s three-year military campaign in Yemen.

Any effect on stocks of the attacks was offset by reports that the United States and China have quietly started negotiations to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets. Hopes that the move signalled an easing of the threat of a global trade war pushed U.S. stock futures up more than 1 percent .

The Saudi index slipped as much as 0.5 percent, with financial-sector stocks the main drag on performance. Al Rajhi Bank, which has been one of the main beneficiaries of foreign money in anticipation of Riyadh’s expected entry onto emerging market indexes, was down 2.2 percent.

The biggest loser was Wafrah for Industry and Development , which slumped 6.1 percent after posting a full-year net loss of 50.1 million riyals, worse than the previous year.

The Dubai stock index lost 0.05 percent, with retailer Marka, the top loser, falling 3.1 percent after announcing a full-year loss of 218.4 million dirhams and lower revenue due to the closure of various non-profitable stores.

DXB Entertainments was also in negative territory, 0.6 percent down after reporting a 1.12 billion dirham ($305 million) loss for last year.

The Abu Dhabi stock index was 0.06 percent down, while the Qatari index lost 0.3 percent.

Outside the Gulf, the Egyptian index was 0.7 percent higher, with Qalaa Holdings the largest gainer, rising 6.6 percent. The stock has gained around 58 percent over the past month. (Reporting by Tom Arnold, editing by Larry King)

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