MIDEAST-STOCKS-Gulf bourses drop ahead of US inflation data; Egypt extends losses

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Tadawul All Shares Index








By Md Manzer Hussain

- Stock markets in the Gulf declined on Thursday, as investors awaited key inflation data due on Friday to assess the likely path of interest rates from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index .TASI fell 0.3% with most sectors in the red and logged a 2.1% loss for the week.

Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, the world's largest Islamic lender, slipped 1.4% and Saudi Research and Media Group4210.SE slumped 10%, the steepest drop in more than six years after the media firm posted a 15.9% decrease in annual net profit.

However, Saudi National Bank 1180.SE climbed 4.9%, the sharpest rise since early January, after the kingdom's largest lender has appointed a new chief executive in place of the acting CEO.

The Qatari benchmark index .QSI was down 0.1%, weighed down by losses in energy, finance, real estate and industry sectors with Qatar Navigation QNNC.QA sliding 2.3% and Qatar International Islamic Bank QIIB.QA dropping 1.4%.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index .FTFADGI slid for a fourth straight session and ended 0.1% lower, with Aldar Properties ALDAR.AD sliding 1.1% and First Abu Dhabi BankFAB.AD, the UAE's largest lender, falling 0.6%.

Dubai's benchmark index .DFMGI was little changed as Commercial Bank of Dubai CBD.DU gained 4.4% and Dubai Financial Market DFM.DU added 3.5%.

However, Al Ansari Financial Services ALANSARI.DU slid 1.9%, the sharpest intraday fall in more than two months, while National Central Cooling TABR.DU slipped 3.9% as both firms traded ex-dividend.

The crucial February reading of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, is due on Friday. A hot reading for the PCE index could dent market optimism around early rate cuts.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any U.S. monetary policy change is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 dropped 2.4%, extending its losses to a third consecutive session, with almost all stocks in the red.

Fawry for Banking FWRY.CA slipped 6.5% and Commercial International Bank COMI.CA dropped 3.1%.


.TASI lost 0.3% to 12,566


.BKP added 0.1% to 8,082


.QSI was down 0.1% to 9,944


.EGX30 dropped 2.4% to 27,559


.BAX lost 0.6% to 2,056


.MSX30 was down 0.8% to 4,673


.FTFADGI fell 0.1% to 9,264


.DFMGI ended flat at 4,233

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Arun Koyyur)


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