March 12, 2020 / 1:16 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE leads Gulf stock falls on coronavirus, U.S. travel ban

    * Aramco closes down at 29 riyals
    * Makkah Construction slips as FY profit falls
    * Air Arabia dives on travel restriction
    * Qatar's Barwa posts lower profit
    * Trading in Kuwait and Egypt suspended

    By Maqsood Alam
    March 12 (Reuters) - Equity indexes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hit
record lows as Gulf stocks tracked a sell-off in global shares on Thursday after
the United States restricted travel and the World Health Organization (WHO)
called coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
    U.S. President Donald Trump banned all travel from Europe, except from
Britain, to the United States for 30 days starting on Friday, after the WHO
described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time.
    "All markets in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) are at risk after the WHO
declared the coronavirus a pandemic, which triggered a sell-off across the board
in the U.S. market," said Marie Salem, head of institutions at Daman Securities.
    "More losses are expected following President Trump's announcement to
suspend travel from Europe for 30 days."
    Dubai's index fell 8% to its lowest since April 2013 with Emirates
NBD dropping 10%.
    Emaar Properties sank 9.8% to its lowest in about seven and half
years. The Burj Khalifa developer, which will stop taking bookings at three
hotels for more than five months from March 15 amid coronavirus fears, has lost
nearly 36% this year.
    Air Arabia closed down 8.9% after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
tightened travel restrictions.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index closed down 7.4% at its lowest in more than
four years. Market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi dropped 8.1%.
    Saudi Arabia's index slipped 3%. Saudi Aramco fell 2.4% as
oil prices slumped, also hurt by the threat of a flood of cheap supply as Saudi
Arabia promised to raise output.
    Brent crude was down 5.5% at $33.81 by around 1215 GMT.

    Aramco's shares closed at 29 riyals ($7.73), 10.3% below their initial
public offering (IPO) price of 32 riyals and have lost 17.3% so far this year.
    Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.5% and Makkah Construction declined
4.2% after reporting lower annual profit.
    The Qatari index ended 4.5% lower, after two straight sessions of
gains. Qatar National Bank lost 5.5%.
    Barwa Real Estate slipped 2.9% after reporting nearly 22% fall
full year profit.
    Trading in Kuwait and Egypt was suspended on
Thursday.
    
 SAUDI ARABIA          fell 3% to 6,357 points
 ABU DHABI            plunged 7.4% to 3,922 points
 DUBAI                  declined 8% to 2,032 points
 QATAR                shed 4.5% to 8,230 points
 BAHRAIN              lost 3.6% to 1,436 points
 OMAN                 was down 2.6% to 3,734 points
 

($1 = 3.7533 riyals)

 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru;
Editing by Alexander Smith)
  
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