Mideast Equities Drop Tracking Slump in Oil Prices: Inside EM

Most Middle East stock markets retreated Sunday as oil’s worst week since October ruffled sentiment among traders.

Gauges in Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Egypt and Israel dropped. The benchmark in Kuwait finished little changed, while Saudi Arabia’s main index edged higher.

Brent crude lost 6.8% last week, amid inflation concerns and worries over the trajectory of near-term demand. Still, Wall Street banks said the selloff was transitory. Adding to the pressure, an index tracking emerging-market stocks posted the first weekly drop in March as U.S. Treasuries breached key levels after the Fed signaled tolerance for higher yields.

“People are going to be focused especially if oil supply fundamentals change,” including potential production coming from Libya and Iran, said Alia Moubayed, the Middle East, North Africa analyst and managing director at Jefferies International. “This is what markets are looking at for the medium-term.”

Aramco climbed 0.6% for the session in Riyadh, erasing a drop of 0.6% earlier, after sticking to its goal of paying shareholders a $75 billion dividend for last year even as the pandemic caused earnings to plunge. The stock contributed the most by points to the positive performance of the main Saudi index.

HIGHLIGHTS:
  • The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.8% last week, the first weekly drop since Feb. 26
  • EM REVIEW: Risk Assets Drop as Fed Signals Patience on Yields
  • MORE: Saudi Aramco Sticks to $75 Billion Dividend After Earnings Slump

MIDDLE EASTERN MARKETS:

  • The Tadawul All Share Index rose 0.1%, extending increase this year to 9.3%

    • Insurance company Tawuniya climbed 2.1% after reporting profit for the full year that beat the average analyst estimate
  • Dubai’s DFM General Index declined 0.8%, Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index fell 0.2%
    • The UAE is expanding its coronavirus vaccination program after inoculating the majority of those at risk
    • Dubai allowed medical centers to resume all non-essential surgeries from Sunday
  • Qatar’s QE Index retreated 0.9%, the most in the Gulf
    • READ: Qatar First Bank Exits $31.5 Million Investment in CMRC
  • Egypt kept monetary easing on pause for a third meeting last week, counting on the world’s highest real interest rate to maintain foreign interest in its debt
    • The EGX 30 retreated 1.1% as of 2:42 p.m. in Cairo

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