Gulf bourses tumble as oil prices extend losses

Dubai (AFP) –


Stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf states tumbled Monday as oil prices extended losses amid unprecedented measures against the coronavirus, as Bahrain became the first Arab Gulf country to record a death from the disease.

Oil prices, the main source of Gulf revenues, skidded to their worst level since early 2016 amid a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the second and third world producers.

The slide was led by the UAE bourses of Abu Dhabi and Dubai which dived by 7.8 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, both trading at multi-year lows.

The two bourses ignored further financial support announced Monday by some countries on top of a $27.2 billion stimulus unveiled the previous day to support the economy against the fallouts of the coronavirus.

Boursa Kuwait continued to bleed with the Premier Index sliding 5.0 percent and the All-Shares Index dropping 3.9 percent.

Following the footsteps of the US Fed, Kuwait Central Bank cut its main discount rate by 100 basis points to 1.5 percent, its lowest ever.

The Saudi Tadawul market, the region's biggest, was trading 3.3 percent lower despite a $13.3 billion stimulus announced the by the kingdom to support the economy.

Bahrain bourse dropped 1.4 percent and Muscat market ended 1.8 percent down.

Qatar Stock Exchange bucked the trend for the second day after the gas-rich emirate announced a $23 billion stimulus in addition to $2.7 billion to support the stock market.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates -- have taken unprecedented measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including halting flights, closing borders, restricting travel and shutting all entertainment facilities.

Bahrain on Monday became the first GCC member state to report a death due to coronavirus.

The 65-year-old woman had pre-existing medical conditions, the health ministry said on Twitter.

Nearly 1,000 cases of the virus have been recorded so far across the six-nation GCC.

Oil prices extended losses Monday with US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) briefly dipping below $30 a barrel, or 5.5 percent, in morning Asian trade before regaining its footing.

The Brent global benchmark was down 3.28 percent at $32.74 a barrel.