Major Gulf markets weakened on Thursday, tracking global shares, as a sudden sell-off on Wall Street and lingering COVID-19-induced restrictions soured investor sentiment worldwide.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 2%, while pan-European STOXXbenchmark shed 1.8%.
Oil, a key catalyst for financial markets in the Gulf region, steadied after earlier declines fuelled by fresh travel curbs to prevent new coronavirus outbreaks and delays to vaccine rollouts.
Among Gulf markets, the Dubai benchmark led the declines, falling 1.1%. The index also posted its first weekly loss in four, shedding 1.4% over the five sessions to Thursday.
Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties was the worst performer on the Dubai index, with just two constituents in the benchmark finishing in the positive territory.
In Abu Dhabi, the index closed 0.4% lower, dragged mainly by a 0.6% decline in telecom giant Etisalat and an about 2% fall in real estate stock Aldar Properties. Abu Dhabi had gained 1.4% in the previous session.
The index also managed a fourth successive weekly gain, firming 0.5% during the week.
The Qatari index lost nearly 1%, with Qatar Islamic Bank shedding 2.4% to be the worst performer on the benchmark.
The index also logged a weekly loss of 1.8%, declining in four of the last five trading days.
Qatar's Commercial Bank Chief Executive Officer Joseph Abraham said the firm plans to raise at least $1 billion through bond issues in the coming months, as the bank looks to take advantage of positive market conditions. The bank's shares followed the broader market, slipping 1.2%.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index bucked the trend to end 0.3% higher, with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the world's fourth-biggest petrochemicals firm gaining about 1%.
The index, however, posted a weekly loss of 0.8%, its second straight decline for the period.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's index firmed 0.5%, buoyed by financial stocks.
Benchmark heavyweight Commercial International Bank, Egypt's largest private bank, rose 0.4%, while financial firm Pioneer Holdings added 7.7%.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.) ((email@example.com; +91 (0)8061822683;))