Saudi stocks fall as tension with United States increases over Khashoggi case

Posted October 15, 2018

A leading US senator says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shouldn't attend a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia later this month in the wake of reports that journalist and USA resident Jamal Khashoggi may have been killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia could face "severe punishment" if it was proven it was involved in Khashoggi's disappearance.

US senators called for reactions ranging from boycotting an upcoming economic summit in Riyadh to ending support for Saudi military operations in Yemen.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed deep concern for Mr Khashoggi.

Turkey's investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi has reportedly revealed recordings made on his Apple Watch, which synced with his iPhone being carried outside the consulate by Khashoggi's fiancée.

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In a joint statement, the nations called for a "complete and detailed response" from Saudi Arabia. "I don't think any of our government officials should be going and pretending it's business as usual until we know exactly what's happened here".

Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi government, vanished last week in Istanbul, Turkey, after entering the Saudi consulate there. The kingdom also warned of retaliation if there was any punitive action against it. Trump said "we would be punishing ourselves" by stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia because it is a "tremendous order for our companies" and that the Middle Eastern nation would simply purchase its weapons from Russian Federation.

On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

"Something this big would definitely spook investors, and Saudi just opened up for foreign direct investment, so that was big", said Issam Kassabieh, a financial analyst at Dubai-based firm Menacorp Finance. Saudi officials assert without providing proof that he left the embassy, but Turkish officials believe he may have been murdered inside the consulate by Saudi agents.

The drop in the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh happened Sunday, the first day of trading.

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Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Viacom Inc VIAB.O CEO Bob Bakish and billionaire Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL, said they were no longer going.

There have been doubts, however, about how far the U.S. president is willing to go, given his administration's deep ties to Riyadh.

Trump has said he probably will not cancel a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi government because that could unnecessarily harm the U.S.

He claimed there are many princes in jail right now in Saudi Arabia.

Fairfax Media revealed past year Australia had approved four military exports to Saudi Arabia in the previous 12 months, even as the Gulf state stood accused of war crimes in its bombardment of Yemen.

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Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and permanent U.S. resident, had fallen out of favor after previously enjoying close ties with the Saudi royal family.