Most major stock markets in the Gulf extended losses on Wednesday as concerns over interest rate hikes checked investor enthusiasm, although higher oil prices gave the Saudi Arabian bourse its biggest boost in nearly four months.
The Fed last week held its policy rate steady in a range of 5.25%-5.50%, but most policymakers signalled one more interest-rate hike by the end of the year would likely be appropriate. Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is usually guided by Fed policy decisions because most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Oil prices - a catalyst for Gulf's financial markets - rose by more than $1 on Wednesday, with Brent crude futures broaching $95, up $1.14 to $95.10 a barrel by 1112 GMT.
The Qatari benchmark stock index fell 0.6%, with financial and industrial stocks were among the top losers on the index. Qatar Islamic Bank dropped more than 1.4%, while chemical makers Industries Qatar was down 1.3%. Among other banking stocks, heavyweight Commercial Bank and Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's biggest lender, fell 2% and 0.3%, respectively.
Dubai's main share index slipped 0.7%, as losses in finance and utilities stocks were capped by gains in industrial sectors. Emirates NBD Bank, Dubai's largest lender, and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties fell 1.7% and 2.3%, respectively, but Gulf Navigation Holding was up 3.4%. In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index, finished in the red, led by a 0.1% decrease in First Abu Dhabi Bank , the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender, and a 2.5% dive in developer Aldar Properties.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index rose 1.4%, its biggest gain since early June, boosted by gains in almost all the sectors with financial and energy stocks leading the boost. Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's second largest lender by assets, increased by 1.6% and index heavyweight and oil behemoth Saudi Aramco hiked 1.8%.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index, fell 0.9%, after hitting all time high in its previous sessions, with 22 of the 30 constituent stocks slipping into negative territory. Commercial International Bank COMI.CA and Fawry Banking FWRY.CA gained 2.1% and 5.2% respectively. Abu Qir fertilizers and Chemical Industries Co and electronic payments provider Fawry, declined by 3.6% and 4.1%, respectively.
- SAUDI ARABIA rose 1.5% to 11,077
- ABU DHABI was flat at 9,812
- DUBAI fell 0.3% to 4,142
- QATAR lost 0.6% to 10,265
- EGYPT declined 0.9% to 20,174
- BAHRAIN edged up 0.1% to 1,938
- OMAN gained 0.2% 4,678
- KUWAIT slipped 0.1% to 7,521
(Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)