Stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Thursday after soft U.S. economic data raised bets that the Federal Reserve would pause interest rate hikes next month, while volatile energy prices weighed on investor sentiment.
A slew of U.S. economic indicators generally surprised to the downside, adding to bets that the Fed is done tightening and rate cuts next year could amount to more than 100 basis points. Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council is usually guided by the Fed policy because most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Dubai’s main share index gained 0.4%, helped by a 1.7% rise in Emirates Central Cooling Systems Co. In Abu Dhabi, the index finished 0.7% higher, buoyed by a 2.1% rise in conglomerate International Holding.
The Qatari benchmark declined 1.5%, as most of the stocks on the index were in negative territory including Qatar Islamic Bank, which was down 2.8%. Oil prices – a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets – rose, boosted by a large drawdown in U.S. crude inventories and production cuts by OPEC+, but a slowdown in China’s manufacturing activity limited gains. China’s manufacturing activity shrank again in August, an official factory survey showed on Thursday, fuelling concerns about weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.7%, weighed down by a 1.9% drop in Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services and a 1.3% decrease in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index was up 0.3%, trading at all-time high, with Commercial International Bank closing 2% higher.
- SAUDI ARABIA fell 0.2% to 11,491
- ABU DHABI rose 0.7% to 9,810
- DUBAI added 0.4% to 4,083
- QATAR dropped 1.5% to 10,195
- EGYPT up 0.3% to 18,874
- BAHRAIN was flat at 1,952
- OMAN rose 0.8% to 4,799
- KUWAIT down 0.4% to 7,695
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)