Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday a day after minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting bolstered the view that interest rate cuts will now be slower in coming than previously expected.

The bulk of policymakers at the Federal Reserve's last meeting were concerned about the risks of cutting interest rates too soon, with broad uncertainty about how long borrowing costs should remain at their current level, according to the minutes of the Jan. 30-31 session.

Dubai's main share index fell 0.6%, extending losses from the previous session when it snapped a nine-day winning streak, hit by a 1.5% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.

A slim majority of economists polled by Reuters now expects the Fed to start cutting rates in June, farther out than market expectations last month of a first cut in March.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In Abu Dhabi, the index declined 0.8%.

The Abu Dhabi market saw a fall among its major stocks with geopolitical tensions and uncertainty over energy prices weighing on expectations, said Milad Azar, Market Analyst at XTB MENA. Two missiles were fired at a vessel off the southeast coast of Yemen on Thursday, causing a fire onboard, British maritime agencies said, as Houthis keep up attacks on shipping to show support for the Palestinians in the Gaza war.

The Qatari benchmark closed 0.6% lower, weighed down by a 2.7% fall in Qatar Islamic Bank. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1%. **

Saudi Arabian stock market was closed for a public holiday

  • ABU DHABI lost 0.8% to 9,315
  • DUBAI down 0.6% to 4,229
  • QATAR dropped 0.6% to 10,303
  • EGYPT rose 0.1% to 29,310
  • BAHRAIN was flat at 2,050
  • OMAN fell 0.2% to 4,571
  • KUWAIT eased 0.1% to 8,128

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)