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Major Gulf Bourses in Red as Oil Prices Slump

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Major stock markets in the Gulf fell on Monday as oil prices, a key catalyst for financial markets in the Middle East, dropped more than 1%, while the Saudi index was on course to snap two sessions of gains.

Crude prices slipped after Chinese data showed that demand from the world's largest crude importer remained lacklustre in September as strict COVID-19 policies and fuel export curbs depressed consumption.

Although higher than in August, China's September crude imports of 9.79 million barrels per day were 2% below a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, as independent refiners curbed throughput amid thin margins and lacklustre demand.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 0.6%, on course to snap a two-day winning streak, with Al Rajhi Bank and oil giant Saudi Aramco dropping 0.7% each.

Elsewhere, Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co slid more than 6%, its biggest intraday fall since late-April, after the company swung to a quarterly loss of 812.27 million riyals ($216.14 million).

On the other hand, shares of Saudi Dairy and Foodstuff Co soared 10% - their daily maximum limit - following a 60% jump in the company's quarterly net profit.

In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 0.3%, hit by a 0.1% fall in the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Dubai's main share index lost 0.3%, weighed down by a 0.3% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.4% drop in top lender Emirates NBD.

Separately, Dubai plans to offer 10% of Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower) in an initial public offering, according to an advertisement in Gulf News on Monday. 

Empower is the fourth state-linked entity to seek a listing this year in Dubai, in a programme aimed at attracting investor interest in the domestic stock exchange.

The Qatari index traded 0.4% lower, with sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan losing 1.4%, while Commercial Bank retreated 1.4% ahead of its earnings announcement.

($1 = 3.7580 riyals)

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Source: Reuters

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