U.S. report on Khashoggi weighs on Saudi shares

U.S. report on Khashoggi weighs on Saudi shares

(Reuters) – Most major Gulf stock markets reversed earlier losses to close higher on Sunday, while Saudi shares retreated after U.S. intelligence released on Friday said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

FILE PHOTO: Trading information is displayed on the screens at the Saudi Stock Exchange, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The United States imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the kingdom.

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies.

U.S. officials said they were considering cancelling arms sales to the kingdom that pose human rights concerns and limiting future sales to “defensive” weapons, as it reassesses its relationship with Saudi Arabia and its role in the Yemen war.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.5%, its biggest intraday fall since Feb. 18, with Al Rajhi Bank losing 1.8%, while petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries slid 3%.

“I don’t think investors considered it a big risk that the U.S. would torpedo U.S. Saudi relations by targeting Mohammed Bin Salman,” said Khaled Abdel Majeed at London-based investment advisory firm SAM Capital Partners. “Political risk is high in Saudi Arabia and so are valuations,” he said.

In Dubai, the main share index ended 1% higher, buoyed by a 2.6% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.8% increase in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.

Elsewhere, Dubai Financial Market jumped 6%, to become the top gainer on the index.

Last week, the DFM said it would reinstate a 10% limit down cap on daily movements in listed securities as of the February 28 trading session.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.6%, with telecoms company Emirates Telecommunications Group advancing 2.2%.

In Qatar, the index gained 0.3%, with lender Masraf Al Rayan rising 1.5%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index slipped 0.8%, pressured by banks. Commercial International Bank lost 1.7% and investment bank EFG Hermes down 1.9%.

** Kuwait was closed for a public holiday.

SAUDI ARABIA down 0.5% to 9,145

ABU DHABI added 0.6% to 5,664

DUBAI rose 1% to 2,552

QATAR gained 0.3% to 10,146

EGYPT fell 0.8% to 11,525

BAHRAIN was up 0.1% to 1,466

OMAN rose 0.3% to 3,612

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