Middle East shares slumped, sending Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index down the most in two weeks, as concern escalated about the region’s stability after Bahrain declared a state of emergency and Gulf Arab states sent troops to the island nation.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, declined the most in two weeks. The Tadawul All Share Index tumbled 3.5 percent, the most since March 2, to 6,011.85 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. Dubai’s DFM General Index lost 1.9 percent and Israel’s TA-25 fell 0.9 percent. In Japan, stocks plunged on concern about possible further leaks from a nuclear power plant. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index of Gulf shares retreated 2.5 percent.
“I would put it down to political uncertainty as key given the situation in Bahrain and the risk of it spreading to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” said Adnan Haider, head of fixed income and equities at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC. “And then the global uncertainty in Japan.”
Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency as a second regional force from the six-member GCC entered the kingdom to maintain security. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s top oil exporters, sent troops to Bahrain yesterday, the first international intervention since a wave of popular uprisings swept through countries in the Arab world.
The yield on Bahrain’s 5.5 percent dollar bond maturing in March 2020 gained 28 basis points, or 0.28 percentage point, to a record 6.88 percent. Bahrain’s stock gauge gained 1.3 percent, paring yesterday’s drop, as 698,000 shares traded compared with a 12-month daily average of 1.8 million shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Mainly Shiite protesters in Bahrain have been demonstrating since Feb. 14, demanding democracy through free elections from Sunni rulers. Shiites comprise as much as 70 percent of the population. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has offered a national “dialogue” toward limited changes.
In Japan, the Topix index suffered its worst two-day decline since 1987 as concern grew about the safety of nuclear plants damaged by the country’s worst earthquake on record. The measure sank 9.5 percent today and the cost of protecting Japan’s sovereign debt surged to a record.
Crude oil fell to a two-week low in New York as concern that damage from Japan’s earthquake may limit crude demand outweighed speculation of supply disruptions in the Middle East. Crude oil for April delivery fell 3.3 percent to $97.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., supply about a fifth of the world’s oil.
Sabic slid 5.3 percent, the most since March 1, to 94.75 riyals.
Emaar Properties PJSC, the builder of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai, fell 2.5 percent to 2.74 dirhams, the lowest since March 10. Real-estate prices in Dubai may face “further downward pressure” this year, Deutsche Bank AG said in a research report dated yesterday.
Dubai Financial Market, the only Gulf Arab stock market to sell shares to the public, slid 5.6 percent, the most since Feb. 22, to 1.19 dirhams. The exchange said net income slumped to 78.9 million dirhams ($21.5 million) from 346.6 million in 2009. The mean estimate of seven analysts was for profit of 122 million dirhams, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Qatar’s QE Index fell 1.4 percent and Oman’s benchmark stock index declined 1.7 percent. Abu Dhabi’s measure lost 0.6 percent and Kuwait’s SE Price Index dropped for the first time in six trading days, sliding 1.3 percent. In Jordan, the Amman SE General Index fell 1.6 percent, while Tunisia’s benchmark Tunindex dropped 0.3 percent.