Jan 6 (Reuters)Major Gulf bourses were little changed on Monday, a day after shares in the region fell steeply due to alarm over increasing hostility between the United Sates and Iran, while Kuwait extended losses.

Tehran promised vengeance after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian top military commander and architect of its growing influence in the Middle East.

Trump also said that the United States will retaliate against Iran if Tehran were to strike back after the killing.

“Escalation encourages money to leave the region and reduces investment inflows, as an actual war would be devastating for regional economies,” said Firas Modad, Middle East and North Africa director at IHS Markit. “It also raises the price of oil, but not enough to plug the hole in the Saudi budget.”

In Saudi, the index .TASI edged down 0.1%, with National Commercial Bank 1180.SE losing 0.6% and Saudi Aramco 2222.SE falling 0.1% to 34.5 riyals ($9.20), hitting its lowest intraday level since last month’s market debut.

Oil prices shot more than 2% with Brent rising above $70 a barrel, while spot gold surged close to a seven-year peak on Monday, after Trump issued a threat to impose sanctions on Iraq amid escalating tensions with Iran in the Middle East. O/RGOL/

In Kuwait, the index .BKP declined 0.2%, following its biggest fall in over two years in the previous session. Mabanee Company MABK.KW slid 2.6% and Burgan Bank BURG.KW was down 2%.

Dubai’s index .DFMGI rose 0.3% as Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU was up 0.7% and Emaar Properties EMAR.DU added 0.5%.

The Abu Dhabi index .ADI traded flat with Aldar Properties ALDAR.AD dropping 0.9%, whereas Dana Gas DANA.AD rose 1.7%.

The Qatari index .QSI slipped 0.1%, hurt by a 1.5% fall in lender Masraf Al Rayan MARK.QA and a 1.7% decrease in Mesaieed Petrochemical MPHC.QA.

($1 = 3.7508 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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