February 9, 2020 / 8:22 AM / 14 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi underperforms; Aramco lowest since IPO

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market led most Gulf bourses lower on Sunday after oil prices plunged more than 6% at the end of last week, while oil giant Aramco fell for a sixth consecutive day.

Oil prices posted their fifth straight weekly decline, as speculators backed away due to weaker consumption figures and expectations the coronavirus, which has killed more than 600 people, will remain a drag on demand.

Last week, a panel advising OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, suggested provisionally cutting output by 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) to help support prices.

However, Russia Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday Moscow needed more time to assess the situation.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index declined 1.2%, dragged down by a 1.4% slide in state-owned Saudi Aramco , which hit its lowest since it began trading on Dec. 11.

Al Rajhi Bank dropped 1.2% and Saudi Basic Industries tumbled 1.6%.

In Dubai, the index slipped 0.2%, with Emirates NBD shedding 0.8%, while Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company eased 2.1% ahead of its board meeting on Feb. 11.

The board is due to approve its annual results and propose a dividend for the second half of 2019.

Qatar’s index was down 0.1%, hurt by a 7.4% plunge in United Development Company, which extended losses from the previous session.

On Thursday, the firm saw its biggest intraday fall since January 2016, after reporting a decline in its annual profit and slashing its 2019 dividend to 5 dirhams from one riyal per share a year earlier.

The index saw some support from Qatar National Bank , the Gulf’s largest lender, which was up 1.4%.

The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.1% as First Abu Dhabi Bank added 0.3% and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank opened 0.4% up. (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

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