Most stock markets in the Gulf closed higher today, Sunday, despite incurring losses in early trading, while Saudi stocks retreated after US intelligence released a report on Friday saying that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to arrest or kill Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The United States imposed sanctions on some of those involved, according to the report, but it excluded the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the Kingdom.
Khashoggi was a resident of the United States and published opinion pieces in the Washington Post criticizing Prince Mohammed’s policies.
US officials said that they are considering canceling arms sales to the Kingdom if it is a human rights concern and may limit future arms deals to “defensive” weapons only, while Washington is re-evaluating its relations with Saudi Arabia and its role in the Yemen war.
The main index in Saudi Arabia fell 0.5 percent, the biggest decline since February 18, Al-Rajhi Bank lost 1.8 percent, while the petrochemical company, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), fell 3 percent.
“I don’t think investors thought there was a great risk that the United States would destroy relations with Saudi Arabia by targeting Mohammed bin Salman,” said Khalid Abdul Majeed of the investment advisory firm Sam Capital Partners in London. “The political risks in the kingdom are high and so are the valuations.”
In Dubai, the main index closed up 1%, supported by the rise of leading Emaar Properties by 2.6% and the increase of Dubai Islamic Bank by 0.8%.
Dubai Financial Market jumped 6%, to become the biggest gainer on the index.
The Dubai Financial Market company said last week that it would restart the normal maximum decline in the prices of listed shares during one session of ten percent of the February 28 trading session.
The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.6%, and Etisalat advanced 2.2%.
In Qatar, the index advanced 0.3%, and Masraf Al Rayan rose 1.5%.
Outside the Gulf region, the leading stock index in Egypt fell 0.8 percent under the weight of declining bank shares. Commercial International Bank slipped 1.7% and EFG Hermes fell 1.9%.
The Kuwait Stock Exchange was closed today for a public holiday.
Saudi Arabia .. The index fell 0.5 percent to 9145 points.
Abu Dhabi .. The index increased 0.6 percent to 5,664 points.
Dubai .. The index rose 1 percent to 2552 points.
Qatar .. The index rose 0.3 percent to 10,146 points.
Egypt .. The index fell 0.8 percent to 11,525 points.
Bahrain .. The index rose 0.1 percent to 1466 points.
Sultanate of Oman .. The index increased 0.3 percent to 3,612 points.