December 30, 2019 / 8:26 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most major Gulf markets subdued, Aramco retreats

Dec 30 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets were sluggish in thin trading early on Monday, with financials hurting Saudi Arabia and telecoms company Etisalat falling in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index edged down 0.1%. Al Rajhi Bank lost 0.3% and Arab National Bank was down 0.9%, a day after its board proposed a lower second-half dividend.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 0.1%, after two days of gains. On Tuesday, Aramco said Goldman Sachs may buy more of its shares to support the price. The so-called stabilisation period will end on Jan. 9.

Riyad Bank added 0.3% after raising its dividend for the second half to 0.55 riyal per share.

The Abu Dhabi index opened 0.1% lower as Emirates Telecommunications lost 0.4%.

Elsewhere, Eshraq Investments slid 2.5% after announcing it would not reduce capital to cover accumulated losses.

In Dubai, the index was flat. Mashreq Bank plunged 9.9%, but Emaar Properties rose 1.2%.

The Dubai government will increase spending by 17%, to a record 66.4 billion dirhams ($18.08 billion) in 2020, to stimulate the economy and support the Expo 2020 world fair, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing state news agency WAM.

Qatar’s main index rebounded 0.3%, helped by a 1.1% increase in Commercial Bank and a 1.3% rise in Qatar Insurance. ($1 = 3.6727 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

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