Saudi, other Gulf stock markets decline on weak Asian counterparts

Gulf stock markets were soft in modest volumes Wednesday due to a slide in Asian stock markets prompted by China’s equities crash and to weak oil prices

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Gulf stock markets were soft in modest volumes Wednesday due to a slide in Asian stock markets prompted by China’s equities crash and to weak oil prices.

Saudi Arabia stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Transport, Media & Publishing and Petrochemicals sectors led shares lower.

At the close, the Saudi stock benchmark Tadawul All Share Index declined 0.26% to hit a new 1-month low at 9,058.37 points.

The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Saudi Automotive Services Co., which rose 3.27% or 1.06 points to trade at 33.50 at the close.

Meanwhile, Fawaz Abdulaziz AlHokair Company added 2.94% or 2.81 points to end at 98.50 and Astra Industrial Group was up 2.44% or 0.76 points to 31.90 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Al-Rajhi Cooperative Insurance, which fell 2.90% or 0.85 points to trade at 28.50 at the close. Alkhaleej Training & Education Co declined 2.85% or 1.74 points to end at 59.25 and Bank Albilad was down 2.55% or 0.97 points to 37.00.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 110 to 55.

Crude oil for August delivery was up 0.44% or 0.23 to $52.56 a barrel.

The Dubai stock index slid 0.8 percent. Construction firm Arabtec dropped 1.2 percent after saying its group chief financial officer, human resources officer and general counsel had resigned, the latest in a series of management upheavals at the company since June last year.

Gulf Finance House edged up 0.3 percent after saying it was considering the possibility of delisting from Kuwait and listing in Saudi Arabia, which would expose its shares to a much larger pool of investors.

Abu Dhabi’s index edged down 0.04 percent as Aldar Properties dropped 2.6 percent but First Gulf Bank Qatar’s market fell 0.1 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical lost 0.2 percent.

Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in August rose 1.15% or 0.66 to hit $57.51 a barrel, while the August Gold contract rose 0.75% or 8.70 to trade at $1161.30 a troy ounce.

Asian shares tumbled to a one and a half year low on Wednesday and the safe-haven yen rallied as Chinese stocks struggled to pull out of a tailspin, shaking investors already rattled by Greece’s debt crisis.

The drop in China extended a savage correction that has clipped 30 per cent off Chinese shares since mid-June, threatening a new blow to the country’s already slowing economy despite a slew of market support steps from Beijing.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan wallowed at its lowest level since February 2014, extending its early losses after Chinese shares opened sharply lower. It was last down 2.7 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended down 3.1 percent, roiled by both China’s dent to regional sentiment and the stronger Japanese currency. “Today is all about China, with Greece in the background now that it’s been given a new deadline,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.

“Shanghai’s early losses were like a cliff-dive, which had a huge impact on investor sentiment.” Shanghai’s benchmark composite index was off its session lows but still down 5.1 per cent, while the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen slipped 6 per cent.

Over 500 China-listed firms announced trading halts on the Shanghai and Shenzhen Exchange on Wednesday, taking total suspensions to about 1,300 - 45 percent of the market - as companies seek shelter from the rout.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose Wednesday in a slight pullback after plunging at the start of the week over Greece and economic fears surrounding the world’s biggest energy user China.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery increased 43 cents to $52.76 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for August climbed 38 cents to stand at $57.23 a barrel in midday deals.

Oil prices had steadied on Tuesday, after U.S. crude futures sunk nearly eight percent Monday on worries about slowing global growth, as Greek voters rejected a bailout offer and China moved to calm financial market turbulence.

Asian equities tumbled Wednesday as a collapse in Chinese shares began to contaminate other markets, and after European leaders slapped Greece with a deadline to submit new bailout reform proposals.

With markets buffeted by two global crises, traders ran for the cover of investments considered safe in times of upheaval, such as the yen.

“China’s stock market rout is now spreading to other financial markets, creating a sweeping sense of panic and liquidity crunch,” said Zheng Ge, an analyst at Wanda Futures Co.

Analysts said new restrictions on margin trading and concerns about the overvaluation of many stocks have forced mainland investors - mostly individual retail traders - to cash out.

There are now fears that the hammering to stock markets will hit the wider Chinese economy, the world’s second biggest, which is already struggling with slowing growth.

Meanwhile, European leaders have given debt-stricken Greece a final deadline of Sunday to reach a new bailout deal and avoid crashing out of the euro, after Greek voters rejected international creditors’ latest plans in a weekend referendum.

The crises are putting pressure on oil prices at a time when the global crude market is already oversupplied, analysts said.

Rising U.S. crude production and a possible return of Iranian oil to global markets if Western powers and Tehran reach a deal on its nuclear program, touted to be sealed in Vienna this week, are widely expected to amplify the global supply glut.

Negotiators from Tehran and major world powers have effectively given themselves until Friday to reach a last-ditch agreement that would allow the West to lift the punishing economic sanctions that have curtailed Iran’s oil exports.

Traders were also awaiting the release later Wednesday of the weekly U.S. crude inventory report, a closely watched barometer of demand in the world’s top oil consuming nation, analysts said.

This story was originally reported on the Saudi Gazette on July 9, 2015.

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