Stock markets in the Gulf declined on Thursday, led by the Qatar index, after more hawkish-than-expected minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting dampened investor sentiment.

Fed officials at their April 30-May 1 meeting indicated they still had faith that price pressures would ease at least slowly, but the minutes also reflected a discussion of possible tightening should risks to inflation materialise.

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.

The Qatari benchmark index dropped 1.5%, with all constituents posting losses, led by materials, real estate, energy and finance stocks. Shares of Qatar National Bank, the region's largest lender, lost 1.7% and Industries Qatar fell 1.6%.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index retreated 1.3%, with almost all sectors in the red. Al Rajhi Bank, the world's biggest Islamic lender, lost 1.4% and Saudi Telecom, the kingdom's largest telecom operator, declined 2.5%.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark index was down for a fourth straight day, falling 0.9% to 8,890, its lowest level in more than two years. Multiply Group slid 6% and conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding declined 8.2% to close at 11.68 dirham per share, its lowest level since listing in June 2021.

Alpha Dhabi said on Wednesday it ended discussion to acquire a majority stake in the UAE-based water and waste water project developer Metito Holdings. Among other losers, shares of crypto mining firm Phoenix Group dropped 6.7% to 1.68 dirham apiece, the lowest since listing in 2023.

Dubai's benchmark index was down 0.8%, pressured by a 1.1% dip in bule-chip developer Emaar Properties and 1.9% fall in Emirates NBD, the emirate's largest lender.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index eased 0.1% with Misr Fertilizers falling 7.1%. Eastern Company, however, advanced 5.3%. Philip Morris International said on Wednesday it had acquired a 14.7% indirect minority stake in Egypt's largest cigarette manufacturer Eastern Co. Among other gainers, EFG Holding rose 3.3% after Egypt's biggest investment bank reported 110% surge in its quarterly net profit.

  • SAUDI ARABIA was down 1.3% to 11,996
  • KUWAIT lost 0.2% to 7,784
  • QATAR fell 1.5% to 9,562
  • EGYPT lost 0.1% to 27,205
  • BAHRAIN added 0.2% to 2,020
  • OMAN eased 0.1% to 4,803
  • ABU DHABI lost 0.9% to 8,890
  • DUBAI dropped 0.8% to 4,024

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)