Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, although the Dubai index bucked the trend to close higher. Investors are awaiting a raft of central bank interest rate decisions this week to assess the outlook for economic growth and fuel demand.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold, but the focus will be on its projected policy path. The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council's monetary policy is usually guided by the Fed's decision as most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index eased 0.1%, with Dr Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services dropping 1.8%. Separately, Saudi oil and gas driller ADES Holding said it had set the final price for its initial public offering (IPO), implying a valuation of 15.242 billion riyals ($4.06 billion) for the Saudi sovereign wealth fund-backed firm.

In Qatar, the index fell 0.2%, hit by a 0.7% drop in Qatar Islamic Bank. Oil prices, which fuel the Gulf's economy, fell ahead of the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, with investors uncertain when peak rates will be hit and how much of an impact it will have on energy demand.

The Abu Dhabi index finished flat.

Dubai's main share index, however, advanced 1.6%, extending gains for a third session, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties jumping 5.2%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index declined 0.8%, snapping a five-day winning streak, weighed down by a 1% fall in Commercial International Bank.

  • SAUDI ARABIA eased 0.1% to 11,062
  • ABU DHABI was flat at 9,823
  • DUBAI rose 1.6% to 4,138
  • QATAR dropped 0.2% to 10,295
  • EGYPT down 0.8% to 19,797
  • BAHRAIN declined 0.3% to 1,923
  • OMAN added 0.1% to 4,694
  • KUWAIT lost 0.4% to 7,615

($1 = 3.7512 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami)