Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday amid rising geopolitical tensions in the region, while rising oil prices limited losses.
Maersk said explosions nearby forced two ships operated by its U.S. subsidiary and carrying U.S. military supplies to turn around when they were transiting the Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen, accompanied by the U.S. Navy.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military carried out more strikes in Yemen, destroying two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed at the Red Sea and were preparing to launch, the U.S. military said.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index eased 0.1%, with media giant MBC Group declining 9.9%, falling for a third consecutive session.
MBC Group, since its debut on Jan. 08, has risen more than 130% against its initial public offering price of 25 riyals per share.
Elsewhere, oil giant Saudi Aramco finished 0.5% lower.
Saudi Arabian bourse’s performance was relatively flat today, yet the overall bullish trend persisted and may lead to further gains, said Ahmad Awni, head of NCM Investment’s marketing department.
Dubai bourse leads Gulf markets higher on upbeat earnings
“The recent rebound in oil prices, if sustained, could positively impact the energy sector, which has been under pressure for some time, with stocks like Saudi Aramco being affected.”
Oil prices rose after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected last week and a fresh attack by Houthi forces on ships off Yemen’s coast underscored the peril facing trade in a key global transit route.
Dubai’s main share index eased 0.2%, hit by a 1.4% fall in toll operator Salik Co.
Among other losers, Emirates NBD Bank (ENBD) – which rose more than 5% in early trade – concluded 0.8% lower.