Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Monday, as signs of an economic slowdown ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting this week kept investors at bay, while retreating crude prices added to the worries.
The Fed will opt for another 75 basis point rate hike rather than a larger move to quell stubbornly-high inflation as the likelihood of a recession over the next year rises to 40%, a Reuters poll of economists found.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.8%, with Riyad Bank losing 3.4% and Saudi National Bank , the kingdom's biggest lender, falling 1.3%. Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, fell in seesaw trading as the market balanced supply fears with expectations that rise in U.S. interest rates would weaken fuel demand.
Dubai's main share index lost 0.7%, hit by a 2.2% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties declining 2.2% and a 1.4% decrease in Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. The Dubai bourse could return to new price corrections after this month's strong rebound, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness. "Investors' expectations might weigh on performance as they wait for the Federal Reserve's decision."
In Abu Dhabi, the equities retreated 0.8%, with the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank closing 1.6% lower.
The Qatari index, however, bucked the trend to finish 0.4% higher, helped by a 3.9% jump in Commercial Bank a day after reporting a rise in first-half profit.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.4%, with top lender Commercial International Bank losing 0.3%. According to Makarem, the Egyptian market is still seeing a selling trend from international investors and could be impacted by the rising tensions in Eastern Europe.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)