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Gulf stock markets plunge sharply on weak oil

Emaar Properties, the emirate's largest listed firm, tumbled 7.5 percent to 7.70 dirhams

Published: Updated:

Stock markets across the Gulf dropped sharply in a panic sell-off on Tuesday after the price of Brent crude oil hit a new five-year low of $65.33 per barrel.

Dubai's bourse led the decline, tumbling 5.2 percent to 3,820 points by midday with all traded stocks deep in the red. The benchmark has major technical support at 3,731 points, its July low.

Emaar Properties, the emirate's largest listed firm, tumbled 7.5 percent to 7.70 dirhams, falling below its June low of 7.95 dirhams, a major technical support.

Smaller developer Union Properties fell 8.5 percent and builder Arabtec Holding lost 7.1 percent.

"Crude and technicals" dominate investors' attention right now, said Sanyalak Manibhandu, manager of research at NBAD Securities in Abu Dhabi; Dubai is suffering because it is one of the most liquid markets in the region, he said.

"People wanted to take a bet in this region, they went to Dubai - now they're panicking."

Many analysts think that because Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and other big Gulf oil exporters have huge fiscal reserves, they will continue spending heavily despite oil's drop, so the regional economy will stay strong - and Dubai will continue prospering.

But oil's slide has been so sudden that retail investors are rushing to take profits on Dubai's big gains of the past 18 months.

The sell-off is again making stocks attractive from a valuation perspective, but investors are only likely to start accumulating early next year, Manibhandu said.

Other Gulf markets, which were only marginally weaker in the morning, extended losses in response to Dubai's plunge.

Abu Dhabi dropped 3.4 percent, Qatar fell 2.7 percent, Kuwait lost 2.1 percent and Oman's index slid 2.5 percent.

Abu Dhabi-listed Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics was one of just a handful gainers in the region, jumping 4.0 percent to 3.35 dirhams after brokerage CI Capital assigned it an "overweight" rating with a target price of 4.60 dirhams.

Saudi Arabia's index fell 2.9 percent shortly after opening as Saudi Basic Industries, the kingdom's biggest listed firm, tumbled 5.0 percent and top lender National Commercial Bank dropped 2.6 percent.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's market edged down 0.4 percent amid a mixed performance by local stocks. Developer Heliopolis Housing jumped 4.8 percent, extending an upswing which began on Monday after its annual meeting approved a dividend of 1.0 pound per share, up from last year's 0.85 pound.