DUBAI: Gulf stock markets have plunged to multi-year lows despite massive stimulus spending as the region has suffered the double blow of plummeting oil prices and sweeping coronavirus shutdowns.
Since early March, all seven bourses in the Gulf region have suffered some of their most tumultuous performances, with UAE markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well as in Kuwait shedding over a third of their value.
The Saudi Tadawul market — the biggest bourse in the region and among the world’s top 10 — has slumped about 18 percent since the start of the month.
Saudi Aramco has dipped 12 percent since March 1 and its market value has dropped to $1.57 trillion.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Oman have announced stimulus measures worth some $85 billion in total to support their economies, with some of the cash targeted to shore up sagging stock markets.
Moody’s ratings agency said the $27.2 billion stimulus by the UAE would be helpful in that it would “limit the UAE banks’ likely material asset quality deterioration from the coronavirus outbreak.”
Gulf stocks fell steeply after the OPEC+ oil producers alliance failed to reach agreement on additional output cuts that ignited a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Oil prices have slid sharply since and crashed on Wednesday to 18-year lows.
The other blow has been the series of unprecedented shutdowns to counter the fast-spreading coronavirus, impacting air travel, closing restaurants and cinemas and shutting down government and business offices in some GCC states.
Analysts say the measures to contain the coronavirus will weigh heavily on the non-oil sector in the Middle East and North Africa.