Gulf markets nosedived on Sunday following the sharp decline in oil prices and the expected rise in Iranian crude exports after the lifting of sanctions.
The plunge in the first day of trading in the region also follows heavy losses in global bourses on Friday, when Gulf markets were closed for the weekend. All seven Gulf bourses saw a wave of panicked sell-offs, sending indices to multi-year lows.
The Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index, the largest Arab market, dived 6.5 per cent to below 5,500 points just minutes after the start of trading. The level was last seen in early 2011.
The leading petrochemicals sector dipped 8 per cent, while banks lost 5.3 per cent.
Since the start of 2016, the TASI has dropped 21.1 per cent, more than all of its losses last year.
The Qatar and Dubai bourses also dropped 6 per cent at the opening before easing slightly. The Dubai Financial Market closed 4.64 per cent to below the 2,700-point mark at 2,684.92 points. Blue chips properties giant Emaar and leading construction firm Arabtec dropped 3.93 per cent and 9.57 per cent, respectively.
The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange also slumped 4.24 per cent but remained above the 3,700-point mark at 3,787.40 points. All sectors were down.
The Qatar Exchange, the second largest in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia, fluctuated sharply within minutes after opening. The bourse was trading down 5.6 per cent below the 8,700-point level.
Since the beginning of this year, Dubai has dropped 15 per cent and Qatar shed 17 per cent.
The Kuwait Stock Exchange dropped 3.2 per cent to just above the 5,000-point mark, levels only seen in 2004.
The small market of Oman dropped 1.5 per cent and Bahrain 0.3 per cent.
All Gulf stock exchanges ended 2015 in negative territory, led by Saudi Arabia, after the sharp decline in oil prices.
The price of oil, which contributes more than 80 per cent to Gulf states' revenues, shed more than 20 per cent this year to drop below $30 a barrel. This follows a plunge of 65 per cent in the past two years.
The return of Iran to the oil market will only worsen the production glut that has been the main reason for the oil price dive.
With inputs from AFP
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