MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf financial stocks hardest hit by falling oil prices
By Ateeq Shariff
Oct 15 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday, pressured by banking shares, weakening in response to a fresh drop in oil prices as new lockdown measures threaten demand recovery for the region's top export.
Brent crude LCOc1 futures dropped $1.48, or 3.42% to $41.84 a barrel at 1243 GMT, as new restrictions to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections have increased uncertainty over the outlook for economic growth and a recovery in fuel demand. O/R
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index .TASI dropped 0.5% with Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE down 0.9% and National Commercial Bank (NCB) 1180.SE retreated 1%.
NCB, the kingdom's largest lender, gained in the previous three sessions after it entered a binding merger agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group 1090.SE.
Global oil stocks which rose during the height of the pandemic are being steadily reduced, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday, but a second wave is slowing demand and will complicate efforts by producers to balance the market.
Lower prices and disruptions to crude exports could worsen fiscal balances in countries reliant on oil income.
Dubai's main share index .DFMGI fell 1.1%, with Emirates NBD Bank ENBD.DU shedding 2.9% and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties EMAR.DU losing 1.5%.
The Abu Dhabi index .ADI eased 0.4%, weighed down by a 1.4% fall in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) FAB.AD.
On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender denied a local news report it was in merger talks with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank ADIB.AD.
Shares of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank rose 1.9%.
Qatar's benchmark .QSI fell 0.3%, hurt by a 0.9% drop in Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA and a 0.6% decline in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar IQCD.QA.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 closed down 0.1%, with tobacco monopoly Eastern Company EAST.CA dropping 1.9%.
.TASI slipped 0.5% to 8,554 points
.ADI eased 0.4% to 4,554 points
.DFMGI fell 1.1% to 2,195 points
.QSI lost 0.3% to 9,999 points
.EGX30 down 0.1% to 11,323 points
.BAX added 0.1% to 1,478 points
.MSI traded flat at 3,594 points
.BKP fell 0.3% to 6,377 points
($1 = 3.7506 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Tomasz Janowski)
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