Investors at Abu Dhabi stock market. Indices on both the UAE bourses continued to post declines on Sunday, amid escalating panic over the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf Newsarchive

Dubai: Indices on both the UAE bourses continued to post declines on Sunday, amid escalating panic over the rapid spread of the pandemic worldwide and its aftereffects on the economy.

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) index dropped 4.8 per cent or 98 points to 1,933.72, while the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) fell 3.5 per cent to 3,786.47 points.

“Travel restrictions imposed by countries are now not a matter of if but when and who’s next,” said Edward Bell, commodity analyst at Emirates NBD. “We don’t think the dust has entirely settled yet.”

Lockdowns fuel selling

The US has announced a state of emergency, France and Spain have imposed lockdowns to try and control the spread of the virus and several additional countries have imposed border closures.

The UAE, which has reported 85 coronavirus infections but no deaths, and other Gulf Arab states are intensifying measures to halt the virus as the number of cases rises. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have taken the most drastic steps, cancelling all international flights.

Elsewhere in the GCC, the region’s largest bourse – Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul – slipped 0.3 per cent and the benchmark in Jordan dipped 0.2 per cent, making the two faring comparatively better than its peers in the province on Sunday.

Others in the region continued to drop at a rapid pace with the top index in Bahrain down 3.9 per cent, benchmark in Qatar down 3.9 per cent, indices in Oman and Kuwait down 2.1 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively.

More oil risk

Another risk weighing on sentiment was the price of crude, given that oil markets collapsed last week under the weight of the Saudi-Russia price war. Even as both Brent and WTI contracts recorded their largest weekly decline since the global financial crisis, prices rebounded slightly on Friday.

“At the moment uncertainty in markets is paramount and the modest rally we saw on Friday for both Brent and WTI—amid a surge in equity prices too—probably reflects positioning more than fundamentals,” Bell added.

At the end of the week Brent futures closed at $33.85 a-barrel, down 25 per cent, while WTI fell to $31.73 a barrel, a drop of 23 per cent.

“Indeed as global travel comes as close to an abrupt halt as is seemingly possible and major economies hit the pause button the impact on oil demand going forward will most likely be worse than the IEA’s (International Energy Agency) recent downside risk projections.”