Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday amid U.S.-China tensions over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan and as investors booked profits from a recent rally, with the Abu Dhabi index ending three sessions of gains.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 0.2%, hit by a 2.5% fall in Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance and a 1.3% decline in Saudi Cement Co. Losses were limited by a 0.7% gain in Saudi British Bank, which reported a rise in quarterly profit.
The kingdom's non-oil private sector kept up a steady pace of growth in July, albeit slowing slightly from June, helped by increases in customer numbers, purchasing and output, a business survey showed on Wednesday.
Dubai's main share index dropped 0.3%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties losing 1.1% and sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank retreating 0.5%.
In Abu Dhabi, the equities closed 0.5% lower, ending three sessions of gains, driven down by a 1.9% fall in conglomerate International Holding.
The Qatari benchmark, however, gained 0.6%, led by a 1.1% rise in Qatar Islamic Bank. The Qatari index recorded some volatility as traders sought to secure gains even as natural gas prices rose, said Daniel Takieddine, CEO MENA BDSwiss. "The main index could maintain a positive profile if natural gas prices stay high."
Oil prices inched up erasing earlier losses, as the OPEC+ producer group was set for a small output increase of 100,000 barrels per day, a document seen by Reuters showed, dashing U.S. hopes of a meaningful supply boost.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index advanced 1%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory. According to Takieddine, the Egyptian stock market could gain with local fundamentals improving gradually, while resuming grain exports from Ukraine could help alleviate price pressures around food products.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)