MIDEAST-STOCKS-Gulf markets slip on Fed rate worries; Saudi climbs

Tadawul All Shares Index -1.64%

Tadawul All Shares Index




By Md Manzer Hussain

- Most stock markets in the Gulf slipped on Wednesday as investors turned cautious after strong readings on the U.S. economy tempered bets on interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year.

Investors' focus is now on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech and March private payrolls and services sector data later in the day to get more clues on the rate outlook.

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

The Qatari benchmark index .QSI dropped 1.1% and closed at 9,691.9, the lowest in five months, with most stocks posting losses, led by finance and communications.

Qatar Islamic Bank QISB.QA and Qatar National BankQNBK.QA, the region's largest lender, declined 1.4% and 1.8%, respectively, while Ooredoo ORDS.QA slid 4.6%.

Dubai's benchmark index .DFMGI fell 0.7% after four straight sessions of gains, with tolls operator Salik Company SALIK.DU decreasing 1.9% and Commercial Bank of Dubai CBD.DU dropping 5.3%.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index .FTFADGI retreated 0.5%, weighed down by a 1.8% drop in conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding ALPHADHABI.AD and 1.9% slide in First Abu Dhabi BankFAB.AD, the UAE's largest lender, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.AD and Aldar Properties ALDAR.AD lost 1.7% and 2%, respectively.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index .TASI was up for a third straight session and advanced 1.2%, the highest intraday rise in three months, with most sectors in the green.

Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, the world's largest Islamic lender, rose 2.7% and Saudi National Bank1180.SE, the kingdom's largest lender, climbed 2%.

Among other gainers, the chemical manufacturer Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE and Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries 4016.SE gained 3.7% and 5.2%, respectively.

Elsewhere, strong demand helped drive non-oil business activity in Saudi Arabia in March, with output accelerating to a six-month high, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 was little changed with Eastern Company EAST.CA falling 3.4% and Misr Fertilizers Production MFPC.CA sliding 4.9%, while El Sewedy ElectricSWDY.CA rose 6.4% and Talaat Mostafa TMGH.CA gained 0.9%.


.TASI rose 1.2% to 12,622


.BKP dropped 1.4% to 7,977


.QSI was down 1.1% to 9,692


.EGX30 ended flat at 27,937


.BAX lost 0.4% to 2,022


.MSX30 was down 0.2% to 4,663


.FTFADGI fell 0.5% to 9,209


.DFMGI declined 0.7% to 4,240

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain)


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