• Fed’s minutes meeting boosts stock markets
  • Dubai’s stock market index outperforms the region
  • Oil prices rise again on tightening supplies
  • Dollar edged higher, gold prices steady

Global markets

Asian shares tracked Wall Street higher early on Wednesday after minutes from the United States’ Federal Reserve’ January 29-30 meeting affirmed it would be “patient” on further interest rate rises.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.4 percent to peak last seen in early October. Overnight on Wall Street, all three major U.S. equity indexes ended in positive territory.

“The bar to restarting rate hikes in the near term seems to be quite high, with several participants arguing that rate increases would be necessary, only if inflation outcomes were higher than in (the) baseline outlook,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note, according to a Reuters report.

“The upshot is we now expect the Fed to leave rates unchanged throughout this year, before a further deterioration in economic growth forces it to cut rates by a total of 75 basis points in 2020,” he said.

Middle East markets

Dubai’s index jumps 2.6 percent on Wednesday, its highest since December 2018, as shares in Emaar Properties surged 6.2 percent, Emaar Malls jumped 6.1 percent and Emaar Development rose 3.1 percent. Other property stocks such as DAMAC Properties and Arabtec gained 4.8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi’s index was also up 0.5 percent with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank surging 5.9 percent.

Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.6 percent. Banks, which were hard hit in the last three sessions, led the gains with 10 of the market's 11 banks rising. Samba Financial Group added 3.2 percent and Riyad Bank gained 2.3 percent.

The Qatari index rose 1 percent as Qatar Islamic Bank was up 2.5 percent while heavyweight Industries Qatar climbed 1.6 percent.

Egypt's blue-chip index EGX30 gained 0.4 percent with Orascom Investment Holding closing 5 percent higher.

Kuwait’s premier market index rose 0.4 percent while Bahrain’s index rose 0.9 percent and Oman’s index was mainly flat.

Oil prices

Oil prices rose early on Thursday to hover near their 2019 highs on tightening supply.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) issued a list of oil production cuts by its members and other major producers for six months starting January 1, to boost confidence in its oil supply reduction pact.

OPEC said on Tuesday that it had reduced its output by almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd.

Oil prices have also been boosted by lower supply from Venezuela, as the U.S. introduced petroleum export sanctions against state-owned Venezuelan energy firm PDVSA.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $57.33 per barrel at 0256 GMT, 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, above their last settlement, but below their 2019 high of $57.55 reached the previous day.

International Brent crude futures were at $67.14 per barrel, 6 cents above their last close and not far off their 2019 peak, hit the day before, of $67.38 per barrel.

“Slowing economic growth will invariably lead to weakness in fuel consumption thus eroding bullish gains for oil prices,” Benjamin Lu of brokerage Phillip Futures in Singapore, told Reuters.


The dollar edged higher following minutes from the Fed’s last meeting.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, added 0.1 percent to 96.569.

Precious metals

Gold prices mainly steadied early on Thursday.

Spot gold had gained 0.1 percent to $1,339.99 per ounce by 0054 GMT, having touched $1,346.73 per ounce in the previous session, its highest level since April 20.

U.S. gold futures were down 0.4 percent at $1,342.5 per ounce.

(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)


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