Qatar hits 5-year low as diplomatic rift hits firms

:: Qatar’s stock index hit a five-year low on Monday because of a fresh sign that a diplomatic dispute in the region was starting to inflict long-term damage on some of its companies.

Shares of Qatar Insurance dropped 2.3 percent after the company said it was closing its Abu Dhabi branch because it had not been able to obtain a license. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5.

Its Abu Dhabi business, which had been operating since 2002, used to bring in annual gross premiums of 110 million Qatari riyals ($30 mln), the company said.

Qatar’s main stock index fell 1.2 percent, dropping for an 11th straight session and bringing its losses since the diplomatic rift developed to 16.6 percent.

“The market is in free-fall at the moment and until there is clarity about how the crisis will be resolved, I don’t see a floor,” said a regional fund manager.

The Saudi index edged down 0.1 percent, hit by declines in most banking stocks as investors booked profits on recent gains. Bank Aljazira, which had risen 3.9 percent on Sunday, lost 0.9 percent.

Airport service operator Saudi Ground Services dropped 3.5 percent after saying it plans to distribute a dividend of 0.65 riyal per share for the second quarter, the same as in the year-ago period.

Dubai’s index rose 0.8 percent as theme park operator DXB Entertainments, the top performer of the day, jumped 6.2 percent; trading volume was moderate, though. Emaar Properties added 2.2 percent.

The Egyptian index edged down 0.2 percent but Arabian Food Industries (Domty) rose 1.6 percent after saying it expects its third-quarter revenue to reach 700 million Egyptian pounds ($39.7 million). Second-quarter revenues were 487 million pounds.

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