June 24, 2020 / 8:13 AM / 21 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE bourses gain in early trade while Saudi, Qatar dip

June 24 (Reuters) - The Dubai stock market rose early on Wednesday, holding on track for a third straight session of gains, while other major Gulf markets moved sideways.

Dubai’s main share index added 0.6%, with its largest lender Emirates NBD gaining 1.4% and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rising 0.7%.

Emirates NBD began cutting hundreds of jobs this week after the impact of the coronavirus crisis accelerated planned lay-offs, Reuters reported, citing three sources.

Although the full scale of the redundancies was not immediately clear, one source estimated that the lender is cutting some 10% of its staff, equivalent to around 800 people.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.5%, helped by a 4.5% jump in Aldar Properties.

China National Biotec Group has won approval to run a large-scale “Phase 3” clinical trial of its novel coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates, the company said on Tuesday.

China is seeking to trial potential vaccines overseas because of a lack of new patients at home.

The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia, which has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, edged down 0.2%.

Petrochemcial firm Saudi Basic Industries lost 0.7% and Al Rajhi Bank was down 0.3%.

The kingdom is to limit the number of domestic pilgrims to around 1,000 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from attending the annual haj pilgrimage due to the coronavirus.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim.

Qatar’s index slipped 0.4%, with Qatar National Bank losing 1.1% and petrochemical maker Industries Qatar easing 0.9%. (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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