Most Gulf markets retreat on interest rate worries

Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Tuesday, in line with global shares, as markets dialled down bets that global interest rate cuts could come as early as March, partly nudged by hawkish remarks from central bank policy makers in Europe.

European Central Bank officials on Monday pushed back on expectations of lower interest rates, with Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel saying it was too early to discuss cuts.

Investors are closely watching U.S. Federal Reserve Board Governor Christopher Waller’s speech on the economic outlook at 1600 GMT since markets had so heartily cheered a shift in his hawkish views in November, when he laid out a path to cuts.

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

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index slipped 0.4%, a day after it snapped a five-session losing streak, hit by a 1.4% fall in oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Stock markets in the Gulf end mixed ahead of earnings season

Yemen’s Houthi movement said on Monday it will expand its targets in the Red Sea region to include U.S. ships, and that it would keep up attacks after U.S.-led strikes in Yemen.

As a result, more oil tankers sought to avoid the southern Red Sea.

However, oil has been supported by the instability in the shipping lane; Brent was last up 0.6% at 78.62 a barrel.

In Qatar, the index finished 0.3% lower, weighed down by a 3.5% slide in shipping and logistics group Qatar Navigation.

Elsehwere, Qatar Islamic Bank retreated 0.9%.

Post trading hours, the sharia-compliant lender reported full-year net profit of 4.31 billion riyals ($1.18 billion), up 7.5% year-on-year.

Dubai’s main share index dropped 0.5%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties falling 0.7%.

The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.2%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index advanced 2.6%, hitting all-time high, led by a 11.8% surge in Talaat Mostafa Group (TMG), extending gains since Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ agreed to acquire a 40.5% stake in ICON, the hospitality arm of TMG.



Business Recorder – Latest News Gulf markets retreat

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Abu Hamza is member of Business Bee Staff

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