May 9, 2018 / 8:39 AM / in 15 days

MIDEAST STOCKS- Gulf markets in mixed reaction to Trump decision

RIYADH, May 9 (Reuters) - Gulf markets had a mixed reaction in early trade on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s decision raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East and has cast uncertainty over global oil supplies.

Oil prices pushed higher in early trading on Wednesday as the U.S. move may curb crude exports by OPEC member Tehran in an already tight market.

Brent crude oil futures were at $76.65 per barrel at 0649 GMT, up 1.8 percent from their last close and not far off Monday’s $76.34, the highest since late 2014.

The Saudi stock market index was down 0.2 percent, the Qatar index edged down 0.1 percent, and the Abu Dhabi index added 0.6 percent in early trade. The Dubai index lost 0.4 percent.

“Stock markets in the Gulf have been weak (over the) last couple of weeks - so quite likely the event is priced in. There are other moving parts in this geopolitical equation, including the wars in Yemen and Syria, and so Iran’s reaction would be keenly watched,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital.

“The rise in Brent to a three-and-a-half year high has significant positive implications for oil exporting nations. If crude oil can hold these levels for a while, I think investors would begin factoring in the improving macro fundamentals,” he added.

In Saudi, Al Rajhi Bank rose 0.4 percent and property developer Jabal Omar went up 0.5 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the main index was helped by First Abu Dhabi Bank which jumped 2.2 percent and Dana Gas that added 0.9 percent.

Damac properties jumped 3.5 percent, leading Dubai market’s early gainers. Doha index’s main support came from Industries Qatar and Commercial Bank of Qatar which rose 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) (Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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