March 17, 2020 / 1:23 PM / in 22 days

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf bourses extend losses; banks boost Saudi

    * 25 of 30 Egyptian stocks decline
    * Nine of 11 banks rise in Saudi
    * Saudi Aramco closes up, at 29.1 riyals
    * Qatar extends gains on stimulus plan

    By Ateeq Shariff
    March 17 (Reuters) - Most Middle Eastern stocks slid to new
multi-year lows on Tuesday, as heightened fears of the
coronavirus pandemic weighed on sentiment, while Saudi took a
breather after four sessions of losses.
    The cases of coronavirus in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation
Council reached to 1,042, whereas Bahrain on Monday reported its
first death from the virus.
    The Abu Dhabi index tumbled 6.3%, with the country's
largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank losing 9.9% and
telecom firm Etisalat shedding 7.1%.
    In Dubai, the index lost 5%, reaching its lowest
since January 2013. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties
 plunged 10%, while Emirates NBD Bank closed
down 5.4%.
    United Arab Emirates, which reported 98 cases of
coronavirus, has urged its citizens abroad to return home due to
travel difficulties amid the spread of the virus and suspensions
of flights from some countries, state news agency WAM said on
Monday, citing the ministry of foreign affairs and international
    Egypt's index retreated 2.4% with 25 of 30 stocks
in the red, including Talaat Mostafa, which slumped
    Egypt, which has reported 166 cases of coronavirus, will
halt all air traffic at its airports from Thursday until March
31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa
Madbouly said on Monday.
    Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 2.5%, led by a
5.7% rise in National Commercial Bank and a 4.7% gain
in Saudi Aramco.
    On Monday, Aramco's Chief Financial Officer Khalid
al-Dabbagh said the company was "very comfortable" with $30 a
barrel oil price and that it can meet its dividend commitments
and shareholders' expectations even in the current low oil price
    Qatar's index was up 1.1%, stretching gains for a
third session. Heavyweight Industries Qatar gained
3.5%, while Vodafone Qatar ended 3.1% higher.
    Qatar said on Sunday it would ban non-Qataris from entering
the country for two weeks as of Wednesday and announced measures
to support the economy including providing 75 billion riyals  
($20.55 billion) in financial incentives to the private sector.

 SAUDI ARABIA          rose 2.5% to 6,107 points
 ABU DHABI            slid 6.3% to 3,323 points
 DUBAI                  lost 5% to 1,751 points
 QATAR                up 1.1% to 8,521 points
 EGYPT                  down 2.4% to 9,202 points
 BAHRAIN              fell 1.1% to 1,380 points
 OMAN                 slipped 0.6% to 3,660 points
 KUWAIT               gained 1% to 4,707 points

($1 = 3.6497 Qatar riyals)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini
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