Saudi Arabia's stock market ended lower on Monday, leading losses in the Gulf region, as aggressive monetary tightening around the world stoked fears of a global recession. MSCI's world stocks index shed 2.07% to almost two-year lows.
The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia dropped 2.3%, hitting its lowest since December, dragged down by a 3.9% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 2.9% retreat in oil giant Saudi Aramco.
Crude prices, a key factor for the Gulf's financial markets, hit nine-month lows on an expected decline in fuel demand as rising interest rates add to the likelihood of global recession, with further price pressure coming from a surging U.S. dollar.
Dubai's main share index closed 1.8% lower, hit by a 3.5% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties. Sentiment among investors remained pessimistic after last week's interest rate hikes fueled concerns about the global economy, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist, at Exness. "The market could remain under pressure with current conditions."
In Abu Dhabi, the index tumbled 2.2%, dragged down by a 3.9% slide in the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank. Separately, Abu Dhabi-based hospital operator Burjeel Holdings plans to sell an 11% stake in an initial public offering that will list its shares on the emirate's exchange, the company said in a statement on Monday.
The Qatari index ended the day 1.3% lower.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index retreated 0.6%, with Commercial International Bank losing more than 2%.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)