Stock markets in the Gulf were mixed on Wednesday amid steady oil prices, while soft U.S. labor market data reaffirmed expectations of an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve in September.

Oil prices, a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, edged up 0.7% after hitting near four-month lows in the previous session, with Brent trading at $78.07 a barrel at 1300 GMT.

The Qatari benchmark stock index rose 0.3%, gaining for a fifth straight session, supported by a 1.9% increase in Industries Qatar and a 0.7% rise in Qatar Gas Transport. Meanwhile, energy giant QatarEnergy signed a deal to supply Taiwan's state-owned oil firm CPC with liquefied natural gas (LNG) for 27 years.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark index was up 0.3%, with Aldar Properties rising 2% and conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC) up 1.5% to 414.50 dirham per share, its highest level since listing in October 2005. IHC is part of a business empire including climate fund Alterra, overseen by its chair Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Alterra will mobilise an additional $200 billion in investments over the next six years, COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slipped 0.5%, with most of its constituents posting losses. ACWA Power dropped 2.7% and Middle East Pharmaceutical slid 2.1%. However, shares of Dr Soliman Abdel Kader Fakeeh Hospital jumped 10.1% to 63.30 riyals from its IPO price of 57.5 riyals per share in its market debut.

Dubai's benchmark index eased 0.1%, dragged down by losses in industry, utilities and communications stocks. Tolls operator Salik Company slipped 3.3% and Gulf Navigation Holding slid 1.6%. Data showed U.S. job openings fell to their lowest level in more than three years in April, signaling an easing in labor market tightness that supports a 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 retreated 1.3%, with all sectors in the red. Abu Qir Fertilizers slid 4.9% and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals declined 4.8%. Several Egyptian fertilizer factories, including Abu Qir and Sidi Kerir, shut down temporarily over pressures on the national gas grid.

  • SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.5% to 11,553
  • KUWAIT rose 0.2% to 7,668
  • QATAR added 0.3% to 9,491
  • EGYPT dropped 1.3% to 26,634
  • BAHRAIN lost 0.2% to 2,038
  • OMAN was down 0.1% to 4,779
  • ABU DHABI gained 0.3% to 8,949
  • DUBAI lost 0.1% to 3,980

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain Editing by Mark Potter)