Major stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Monday amid heightened anxiety over escalating violence in Gaza and the prospect that the conflict could spread beyond Israel and Hamas into the region.
Authorities in Gaza said at least 2,670 people had so far been killed by Israeli strikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded.
Another 1,000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index eased 0.1%, on course to extend losses from the previous session, with auto rental firm Lumi falling 0.8%.
Oil prices – which fuel the Gulf economy – slipped after surging last week, with investors waiting to see whether the Israel-Hamas conflict draws in other countries. Such a development could drive up prices further and deal a fresh blow to the global economy. However, oil giant Saudi Aramco rose 0.2%.
Dubai’s main share index declined 0.7%, dragged down by a 1.7% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 3.4% decrease in Tecom Group.
Separately, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea have concluded talks towards a bilateral trade deal, known as a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the two countries said on Saturday.
In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 0.4%.
The Qatari benchmark lost 0.5%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar losing 1%.
Israel said on Monday no ceasefire had been implemented in southern Gaza, even though security sources in Egypt said a deal had been reached to allow foreigners out of the besieged Palestinian enclave and aid to be brought in.