Stock markets in the Gulf retreated on Wednesday, tracking crude prices, and as global sentiment was weighed by persistent worries that rising interest rates would trigger a global recession.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slid 2.9%, posting broad-based declines, dragged down by Al Rajhi Bank a 4.3% drop and a 2.9% decline in Saudi National Bank, the country's largest lender.
Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, tumbled on news of a plan by U.S. President Joe Biden to cut fuel costs for drivers. The White House asked the chief executive officers of seven oil companies to a meeting this week to discuss ways to increase production capacity and reduce fuel prices of around $5 a gallon as they make record profits.
Dubai's main share index closed 0.9% lower, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties losing 1.9%. In Abu Dhabi, equities declined 1.8%, with the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank retreating 2.5%.
The Qatari benchmark was down 1.1%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar dropping 2.5%.
U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is due to start his testimony to Congress on Wednesday, with investors looking for further clues about whether another 75-basis-point rate hike is on the cards in July.
Economists polled by Reuters expect the Fed will deliver a 75-basis-point interest rate hike next month, followed by a half-percentage-point rise in September, and won't scale back to quarter-percentage-point moves until November at the earliest.
Investors focused on the impact of the tightening monetary policy on economic growth and the Federal Reserve's next steps could cause a sharp slow down, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst of XTB MENA.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index lost 0.8%. According to Mourad, the Egyptian market remains exposed to the developments in Ukraine as well the selling pressure from international investors.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)