Gulf stock markets open lower after oil slides

Stock markets in the Gulf pulled back in early trade on Sunday as investors reacted to a 4 per cent tumble by oil prices at the end of last week by selling shares which had rebounded strongly in the first quarter.

Saudi Arabia will agree to freeze crude oil production levels only if Iran and other major producers do so, the kingdom’s deputy crown prince said in an interview with Bloomberg. Brent crude settled at US$38.67 a barrel on Friday; it fell 3 per cent for the week but finished the first quarter up 6 per cent.

Dubai’s index fell 1.2 per cent in the first 50 minutes of trade on Sunday. Arabtec and property developer Union Properties were down 1.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

“Once traders are convinced that prices have peaked in the so-called speculative stocks, we will see volumes divert back to the big-cap stocks,” said a Dubai-based trader.

Energy-related stocks were the main drag on Abu Dhabi’s index, which slid 0.4 per cent.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company dropped 6.1 per cent, erasing most of a 6.5 per cent gain which it posted on Thursday after reporting a narrower fourth-quarter loss of Dh1.22 billion versus a net loss of Dh3.63bn in the same period of 2014.

Qatar’s benchmark was down 1.5 per cent as most blue chips were sold. The two most heavily traded stocks, Barwa Real Estate and Vodafone Qatar, each dropped more than 1.5 per cent.

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