Most Gulf bourses in red on Omicron worries

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Most Gulf stock markets fell in early trade on Sunday, responding to a slide in crude prices on Friday as surging cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant raised fears that new restrictions may hit fuel demand.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets, settled down $1.50, or 2%, at $73.52 a barrel on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index dropped 0.8% on Sunday, weighed down by a 1% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 2.1% decline in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

The risk of reinfection with the Omicron coronavirus variant is more than five times higher and it has shown no sign of being milder than Delta, a study showed, as cases soar across Europe and threaten year-end festivities.

COVID-19 vaccines appear to have become slightly less effective in preventing severe disease and death but do provide “significant protection”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 1.4%, hit by a 2.9% drop in telecoms firm Etisalat and a 2.1% decrease in the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Global stock benchmarks also fell on Friday as investors wrestled with rising numbers of Omicron cases and a hawkish turn from major central banks in the fight against inflation. MKTS/

Dubai’s main share index slid 1.9% with most of its stocks in negative territory, including blue-chip developer Emaar Properties, which was down 2%.

Meanwhile, The United Arab Emirates’ central bank has extended several measures of its Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS) until June 30 to support the continued recovery of the country’s economy, the bank said on Saturday.

Reuters

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