Gulf stocks down on rising regional tensions

Stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf states dived on Monday as regional tensions soared after ships and oil tankers were targeted by acts of “sabotage” off the UAE coast.

The slide was led by the UAE bourses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi which closed trading down 4.0 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, a day after the attack.

The Saudi bourse, the largest in the region, was down 2.7 percent during trading after the kingdom’s energy minister said two Saudi oil tankers were damaged in a “sabotage attack” off the coast of Fujairah on the Arabian Sea.

The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that four commercial vessels from various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage just outside its territorial waters near Fujairah.

The attacks did not result in any casualties but they caused damage to the vessels.

Qatar shares closed down 1.9 percent and Kuwait Bourse finished 1.2 percent lower while the small bourses of Oman and Bahrain ended trading down 0.66 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

The incidents came amid rising tensions in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran.

Tehran called for an investigation into the “alarming” attacks and warned of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head Brussels to discuss Iran with European officials.

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