On: Monday – January 18, 2021
Most of the major Middle East stock markets closed lower Sunday ahead of the next two-week quarterly and annual business results season. The Saudi benchmark index lost 0.3%, as the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) declined 1.3%, while Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services 1.7% upon closing. The inflation rate in the Kingdom rose to 3.4% in 2020, according to official data, due to the increase of the value-added tax to three-fold last year, amid government efforts to support the revenues that the Corona virus crisis and the low oil prices are plaguing, according to what was reported in “Reuters”. The economy of the world’s largest oil exporter contracted sharply last year, but data indicate a slowdown in the third quarter of the year, with the lifting of some restrictions against Covid-19. Oil prices, which have a significant impact on the financial markets in the Gulf region, decreased by more than 2% on Friday, as concerns about renewed anti-Corona virus closures in China affected a rally thanks to strong import data from the second largest crude importer in the world. The main stock index in Dubai fell 0.3%, affected by the decline of leading Emaar Properties by 0.5% and Emaar Malls by 1.6%, but the Abu Dhabi index closed up 0.3%, with Etisalat shares falling 1.1% and Aldar Properties 0.9%. Abu Dhabi has reached an agreement to produce and export hydrogen for use as fuel, according to what the media office of the emirate said today. The Qatari index fell 0.5%, in losses that included most stocks, such as the petrochemical product Industries Qatar, which lost 0.8%.