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Saudi Aramco Sinks as Global Woes Rock Gulf

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Saudi Aramco shares hit the lowest level since their market debut on Sunday, as Gulf bourses were hit by a panicky sell-off amid Iranian vows of retaliation over the US killing of a top general.

All seven bourses in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states closed in the red, on the first trading day since the death of powerful military commander Qasem Soleimani.

All six member states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — are US allies and lie on the opposite side of the narrow Gulf, making them easy targets for the Islamic republic.

Some of the GCC members, notably Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, are home to major US military bases while Washington maintains hundreds of troops in Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait’s Boursa led the slide, shedding 3.7% as jitters gripped trading in the Gulf state which lies very close to Iran and is home to one of the largest US bases in the Middle East.

Dubai Financial Market, the Gulf stock exchange most exposed to global markets, slumped 3.1% while its sister bourse Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange dropped 1.4%. Trading in the Muslim Gulf nations takes place from Sunday to Thursday and the bourses were closed on Friday when Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul market, the largest in the region and one of the world’s top 10, was trading 2.4% down with most shares in the red. Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest listed firm, shed 1.7% to trade at 34.55 riyals and its capitalisation now stands at USD 1.84 trillion — well under the USD 2.0 trillion sought by Saudi rulers.

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