March 15, 2020 / 8:52 AM / 24 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Major Gulf stock markets extend losses on coronavirus

March 15 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets slipped on Sunday, with United Arab Emirates leading the losses as concerns about the impact of coronavirus outweighed its stimulus plan and Saudi Aramco inched lower after profits missed forecasts.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of six Arab states reliant on oil revenues and hit by the drop in crude prices, have reported about 900 virus cases.

The UAE, an international transit hub which has reported 85 coronavirus infections, announced a 100 billion dirham ($27 billion) economic plan to support the economy.

Dubai’s index slid 5%, trading at its lowest since 2013. Emirates NBD bank was among the biggest fallers, dropping 10%.

Emaar Properties fell 5%. It said last week it would stop taking bookings at three hotels for more than five months, effective from Sunday, due to the virus.

Theme parks operator DXB Entertainments lost 5.1% after temporarily suspending park operations.

Abu Dhabi’s index fell another 2.3%, adding to Thursday’s fall. First Abu Dhabi Bank declined 3.7% and Aldar Properties shed 6.6%.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged down 0.1% in its third consecutive days of losses.

Aramco dipped 0.3% after posting a 21% decline in 2019 net profit to $88.2 billion. Analysts had expected net profit of $92.6 billion, based on 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Aramco, which listed last year and is now trading below its listing price, said it paid a dividend of $73.2 billion in 2019 and intends to declare a cash dividend of $75 billion in 2020.

Saudi Arabia, with more than 100 cases of coronavirus, announced a $13 billion package to support small and medium enterprise.

In Qatar, the index was down 0.1% as Commercial Bank decreased 4.2%.

Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair

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