Air Arabia dives on travel restriction
Equity indexes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hit record lows as Gulf stocks tracked a sell-off in global shares on Thursday after the United States restricted travel and the World Health Organization (WHO) called coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
U.S. President Donald Trump banned all travel from Europe, except from Britain, to the United States for 30 days starting on Friday, after the WHO described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time.
"All markets in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) are at risk after the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, which triggered a sell-off across the board in the U.S. market," said Marie Salem, head of institutions at Daman Securities.
"More losses are expected following President Trump's announcement to suspend travel from Europe for 30 days."
Dubai's index fell 8% to its lowest since April 2013 with Emirates NBD dropping 10%.
Emaar Properties sank 9.8% to its lowest in about seven and half years. The Burj Khalifa developer, which will stop taking bookings at three hotels for more than five months from March 15 amid coronavirus fears, has lost nearly 36% this year.
Air Arabia closed down 8.9% after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait tightened travel restrictions.
In Abu Dhabi, the index closed down 7.4% at its lowest in more than four years. Market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi dropped 8.1%.
Saudi Arabia's index slipped 3%. Saudi Aramco fell 2.4% as oil prices slumped, also hurt by the threat of a flood of cheap supply as Saudi Arabia promised to raise output.
Brent crude was down 5.5% at $33.81 by around 1215 GMT.
Aramco's shares closed at 29 riyals ($7.73), 10.3% below their initial public offering (IPO) price of 32 riyals and have lost 17.3% so far this year.
Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.5% and Makkah Construction 4100.SE declined 4.2% after reporting lower annual profit.
The Qatari index ended 4.5% lower, after two straight sessions of gains. Qatar National Bank lost 5.5%.
Barwa Real Estate slipped 2.9% after reporting nearly 22% fall full year profit.
Trading in Kuwait and Egypt was suspended on Thursday.
SAUDI ARABIA fell 3% to 6,357 points ABU DHABI plunged 7.4% to 3,922 points DUBAI declined 8% to 2,032 points QATAR shed 4.5% to 8,230 points BAHRAIN lost 3.6% to 1,436 points OMAN was down 2.6% to 3,734 points
($1 = 3.7533 riyals)