Gulf stocks down on rising regional tension

Stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf states dived on Monday as regional tensions soared after ships and oil tankers were targeted by acts of "sabotage" off the UAE coast.

The Saudi bourse, the largest in the region, was down 2.7 percent after the kingdom's energy minister said two Saudi oil tankers were damaged in a "sabotage attack" off the coast of Fujairah on the Arabian Sea.

The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that four commercial vessels from various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage just outside its territorial waters near Fujairah.

The attacks did not result in any casualties but they caused damage to the vessels. The UAE bourses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi dropped by 3.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively on Monday.

Qatar shares were down 2.1 per cent and Kuwait Bourse was 1.2 per cent lower while the small bourses of Oman and Bahrain were down 0.16 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

The incidents came amid rising tensions in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran.

Tehran called for an investigation into the "alarming" attacks and warned of "adventurism" by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head Brussels to discuss Iran with European officials.