Stock markets in the Gulf slumped on Sunday on fears the spreading coronavirus outbreak could hurt the global economy and oil prices. Kuwait’s bourse, which traded after a three session break, plunged 11%, its biggest ever intraday fall, led by a 14.5% drop in National Bank of Kuwait and a 10% slide in Kuwait Finance House.
The exchange said it had suspended trading for rest of the day due to the steep decline, Reuters reported. In Dubai, the index tumbled 4.7%, hitting its lowest since December 2018, while the Abu Dhabi index slid 3.6%.
The Muscat Securities Market in Oman edged down 1.1 percent. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index was down 3.4%.
State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 2.4% to 32.55 riyals ($8.68). "GCC equities witnessed a downfall as panic over coronavirus spread across the region," M.R. Raghu, head of research at Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz), told AFP.
"Initial expectations that the outbreak would be contained within China have proved elusive, as a large number of international cases continue to be reported," he said.
For his part, Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co, said: "The news flow today is quite negative and it will make the narrative between now and Monday morning even more important than it was on Friday." Maley said it was still too early to look at worst-case scenarios.
"If things get going in one direction, it´s very hard to turn around," he told Bloomberg News.