Banks lead Saudi down, Qatar Fuel rebounds

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RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell on Sunday morning as banking shares led blue chip declines, while Qatar was firm on the back of a rebound by Qatar Fuel.

United Arab Emirates markets were closed for a religious holiday, while other Gulf bourses were mixed in quiet trade.

The Saudi index <.TASI> fell 1.1 percent in the first 75 minutes with Al Rajhi Bank <1120.SE> losing 0.8 percent and National Commercial Bank <1180.SE>, the kingdom’s largest lender by assets, down 0.9 percent.

Saudi Arabian schools operator National Company for Learning and Education <4291.SE> was at 20.34 riyals, up 7.1 percent from its initial public offer price, on its first day of trade; earlier, it had risen its 10 percent daily limit.

The firm sold 13 million shares or 30.23 percent of its expanded capital in last month’s IPO. The institutional tranche, accounting for 90 percent of the offer, was 155 percent subscribed, a smaller over subscription than in past IPOs as the market was hit by selling due to the death of dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

A Gulf analyst said the market’s decline on Sunday, although not huge, was driven by continued negative sentiment after the latest news on the killing of Khashoggi, who was murdered in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday called a CIA assessment blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Khashoggi “very premature”.

But Trump said he would receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday, and the U.S. State Department said Washington might take further steps beyond economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials that were announced at the end of last week.

In Qatar, the index <.QSI> rose 0.5 percent on a 4.2 percent gain by Qatar Fuel <QFLS.QA>. The stock had dropped 5.6 percent on Thursday and 10 percent on Wednesday in response to MSCI’s decision, against market expectations, not to include the stock in its global indexes.

Industries Qatar <IQCS.QA> and Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan <MARK.QA> rose 0.9 percent each.

Kuwait’s blue chip index <.BKP>, Bahrain <.BAX> and Oman <.MSI> were flat.

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