Most stock markets in the Gulf slipped on Tuesday amid rising geopolitical tensions in the region, while investors also awaited key U.S. inflation data later in the week. Israeli tanks advanced to the centre of Rafah for the first time on Tuesday, as part of ground offensive in the southern Gaza city that has stirred global condemnation for its continued civilian toll.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index was down for a fourth straight day, falling 1.5% to 11,660, its lowest level in five months. ACWA Power slid 4.7% and Saudi National Bank, the kingdom's largest lender, declined 2.1%.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark index dropped 1% to 8,742, its lowest level in more than two years. The conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding declined 6% to close at 11.0 dirham per share, its lowest level since listing in June 2021. Among other losers, First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's largest lender, fell 2.2% to 11.58 dirham apiece, the lowest in three and half years. Dubai's benchmark index retreated 1% after the previous day's gains, with most sectors in the red. Tolls operator Salik Company slid 2.2% and Emirates NBD , the emirate's largest lender, slipped 1.6%.

"GCC markets were mostly under pressure due to geopolitical tensions and uncertainty around oil prices, with coming inflation data from the U.S. also impacting market sentiment", said Hani Abuagla, Senior Market Analyst at XTB MENA.

The Qatari benchmark index bounced back after four straight sessions of losses to end 0.5% higher, supported by gains in finance, industry, materials and utilities. Qatar Islamic Bank, the country's largest Islamic lender, climbed 3.2% and Qatar Navigation rose 1.1%. The Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation, core personal consumption expenditures, due on Friday will also be closely watched for clues on the U.S. central bank's interest rate outlook.

Markets are currently fully pricing in one 25 basis-point Fed rate cut this year. Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar, and any U.S. monetary policy change is usually followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index eased 0.3%, pressured by a 1.9% drop in Talaat Mostafa Group and a 15.4% slump in Qalaa Holding. However, Palm Hills Development climbed 3.6%. The developer, Palm, posted a 300% surge in its first-quarter net profit.

  • SAUDI ARABIA was down 1.5% to 11,660
  • KUWAIT lost 0.4% to 7,693
  • QATAR gained 0.5% to 9,377
  • EGYPT lost 0.3% to 27,195
  • BAHRAIN fell 0.2% to 2,022
  • OMAN gained 0.8% to 4,829
  • ABU DHABI lost 1% to 8,742
  • DUBAI dropped 1% to 3,987

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)