June 23, 2019 / 1:38 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi leads major Middle East markets lower as regional tensions worsen

    * Saudi extends losses for third straight session
    * Qatar reverses gains as QNB falls
    * Emaar Properties falls in Dubai

    DUBAI, June 23 (Reuters) - Middle Eastern stock markets fell
on Sunday, led by Saudi Arabia, as political tensions ramped up
after U. S. President Donald Trump announcing new sanctions on
    Trump on Saturday said additional sanctions would be imposed
on Monday but that he wanted to make a deal to bolster Iran's
flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions following
the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone last week by Iran.

    The Saudi index fell 1.5%, extending losses from the
previous two sessions, as banking shares slid.
    Al-Rajhi Bank lost 1.3%, Samba Financial Group
 dropped 3.6%, and National Commercial Bank
fell 1.9%.
   Qatar's index lost 1.3%, reversing gains from the
previous session when it reached its highest since February, as
the region's biggest lender Qatar National Bank fell
1.9%. Industries Qatar fell 1.4%. 
    QNB split its stocks this month, while Industries Qatar is
due to follow suit on June 25. 
    A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is
being phased in from June 9, aiming to boost liquidity by
encouraging smaller investors to buy shares.
    The Abu Dhabi index shed 1.1%, hurt by a 1.7% drop in
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the United Arab Emirates'
biggest lender.
    On Wednesday, FAB said that it would close its sole branch
in Qatar, citing Doha's regulatory actions against the bank.
    Earlier in June Qatar placed further restrictions on the
bank as it continued an investigation into alleged currency
manipulation, opened after the UAE and other Arab states began a
boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.
    FAB said Qatari actions have no impact on its business
outside Qatar and the Doha branch contributed less than 0.03% of
its full-year 2018 net profit.
    In Dubai, the index lost 0.7% as developer Emaar
Properties fell 1.6% and budget carrier Air Arabia
 lost 1.0%.
    The UAE's aviation authority said on Saturday UAE-registered
operators need to avoid areas that could jeopardise operations.
Earlier, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority banned U.S.
operators from flying over some Iran-controlled airspace.
    Egypt's blue-chip index lost 0.2%, its fourth
consecutive session of losses since closing higher on Monday,
the day Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed
Mursi died while on trial in a Cairo court.
    There have been calls  for an inquiry into Mursi's death
from many, including Amnesty International and the U.N. Human
Rights office.
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         lost 1.5% to 8,739 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        lost 1.1% to 4,989 points
 DUBAI         The index          lost 0.7% to 2,640 points
 QATAR         The index        lost 1.3% to 10,551 points
 EGYPT         The index          lost 0.2% to 14,017 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        edged up 0.1% to 1,456 points
 OMAN          The index        lost 0.1% to 3,924 points
 KUWAIT        The index        lost 0.4% at 6,344 points
 (Editing by Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey)
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