Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday on optimism the U.S. Federal Reserve would pause its rate hikes this month, while rising oil prices cheered investors.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.6%, with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services advancing 2% and oil giant Saudi Aramco finishing 1.2% higher. Prices of crude — a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets — rose by more than $1 a barrel after top exporter Saudi Arabia pledged to cut production by a further 1 million barrels per day from July to counter macroeconomic headwinds.

Meanwhile, the kingdom intends to offer several sports clubs for privatisation starting in the fourth quarter, state news agency SPA said on Monday, breathing new life into a plan that forms part of an ambitious economic agenda to reduce reliance on oil.

Dubai's main share index closed 1.4% higher, with utility firm Dubai Electricity and Water Authority climbing 6.4%. New business activity, driven largely by domestic demand, continued to support non-oil business activity in the United Arab Emirates in May, a survey showed, although the pace of growth eased from the previous month.

In Qatar, the index added 0.4%, with Qatar Islamic Bank gaining 1.4%. The Abu Dhabi index, however, bucked the trend, falling 0.3%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.6%, hit by a 0.4% fall in top lender Commercial International Bank. Non-oil private sector activity in Egypt contracted for the 30th straight month in May, weighed down by continued high inflation and weak demand, a survey showed on Monday.

  • SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.6% to 11,294
  • ABU DHABI fell 0.3% to 9,376
  • DUBAI gained 1.4% to 3,653
  • QATAR added 0.4% to 10,435
  • EGYPT lost 0.6% to 17,346
  • BAHRAIN was flat at 1,955
  • OMAN lost 0.2% to 4,655
  • KUWAIT advanced 1% to 7,649

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)