Most Gulf stock markets closed higher on Wednesday, tracking oil and global equities after comments from the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve boosted risk appetite, though the Qatar index fell amid energy price volatility.

The Fed's Jerome Powell told a Q&A session at the Economic Club of Washington that he expects 2023 to be a year of "significant declines in inflation", raising investor hopes for a slowing in the pace of increases to interest rates.

Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar and follow the Fed's policy moves closely, exposing the region to direct impact from monetary tightening in the world's largest economy.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.4%, snapping a seven-day losing streak, with oil behemoth Saudi Aramco climbing 1.3% while petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries rose by 1.9%.

Oil prices - a key contributor to Gulf economies - jumped more than 1% on supply concerns after an earthquake shut a major export terminal in Turkey and on prospects of demand growth in China. Brent crude futures rose 86 cents, or 1.03%, to $84.55 a barrel by 1053 GMT.

Dubai's benchmark index settled 0.4% higher, gaining for a sixth straight session, as momentum in heavyweight stocks in the real estate sector helped to keep it in positive territory. Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and business park operator Tecom Group climbed by 2% and 5.3% respectively. A 3% jump in real estate developer Aldar Properties bolstered Abu Dhabi's benchmark index, which was up 0.1% at the close. Aldar is due to announce full-year earnings on Feb. 9.

Qatari index dipped 0.7%, as losses in banking and materials sector sapped early gains. Qatar Islamic Bank declined 2.3% and fuel retailer Qatar Fuel dropped by 1.9%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.3% despite most constituents finishing in the red, with the index lifted by a 1.9% gain for Commercial International Bank Egypt . Separately, ratings agency Moody's lowered Egypt's sovereign rating by a notch to B3 from B2 on Tuesday, citing the country's reduced external buffers and shock absorption capacity.

  • SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.4% to 10,508
  • ABU DHABI added 0.1% to 9,924
  • DUBAI up 0.4% at 3,417
  • QATAR lost 0.7% to 10,502
  • EGYPT 0.3% to 16,948
  • BAHRAIN edged 0.1% to 1,936
  • OMAN gained 0.2% at 4,766
  • KUWAIT flat at 8,235

(Reporting by Mohd Edrees in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman )