Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Monday as the rally in global stocks stalled over doubts about the expected U.S. rate cut ahead of a key U.S. inflation reading and central bank policy decisions. Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is usually guided by decisions of the Federal Reserve as most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Dubai's main share index dropped 0.4%, weighed down by a 2.8% fall in utility firm Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and a 1.1% drop in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties. The Dubai stock market continued to slide, approaching the lower end of its trading range last month. The market recorded declines in many of its largest stocks as traders remain cautious ahead of the Fed meeting, said Daniel Takieddine, CEO MENA at BDSwiss.

"However, strong local fundamentals could help keep losses limited." The Qatari benchmark dropped 0.4%, falling for seventh consecutive session, with the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank declining 1.9%.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index, however, gained 0.8%, led by a 4.2% rise in Saudi Telecom Co and a 2.2% increase in Al Rajhi Bank. Contrary to other stock markets in the region, the Saudi bourse continued to accumulate gains, recovering part of the losses it witnessed during the last few months, said Takieddine.

"At the same time, the market could continue to see risks from the developments in oil markets." Oil prices dipped as worries persisted around crude oversupply despite OPEC+ cuts and softer fuel demand growth next year.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index finished flat. Separately, Egypt's government will raise the minimum wage paid by the private sector to 3,500 Egyptian pounds ($113) a month as of Jan. 1, according to a decision published in the official gazette on Monday.

  • SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.8% to 11,381
  • ABU DHABI rose 0.1% to 9,412
  • DUBAI lost 0.4% to 3,935
  • QATAR dropped 0.4% to 9,736
  • EGYPT was flat at 11,337
  • BAHRAIN eased 0.1% to 1,940
  • OMAN fell 0.3% to 4,588
  • KUWAIT added 0.7% to 7,347

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)