Gulf bourses fall on weak oil prices; Dubai rises

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Dec 8 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday, weighed by falling oil prices as investors assessed the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the global economy and fuel demand.

Brent crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.4%, at $75.76 a barrel at 1220 GMT, after earlier falling by more than $1.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) dropped 1.1%, with Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) losing 2.3% and Banque Saudi Fransi (1050.SE) sliding 4.5%.

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The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Tuesday it bombed military targets in the capital Sanaa after the Iran-aligned Houthis launched ballistic missiles and armed drones into Saudi Arabia, including at Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah. read more

The tit-for-tat violence has escalated dramatically over the last months despite efforts by the United States and the United Nations to engineer a ceasefire in the seven-year-old war that has caused a dire humanitarian crisis. read more

On the other hand, shares of Saudi Tadawul Group (1111.SE), the kingdom's stock exchange operator, gained more than 12% in its stock market debut.

Tadawul had set its initial public offering price at 105 riyals a piece at the top end of the indicated range, raising 3.78 billion riyals ($1.01 billion) in the deal.

Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) added 0.1%, gaining for a sixth consecutive session, helped by a 2.2% rise in top lender Emirates NBD Bank (ENBD.DU).

The United Arab Emirates will shift to a working week of four and half days with a Saturday-Sunday weekend from the start of next year to better align its economy with global markets, but private companies will be free to choose their own working week. read more

The Dubai bourse ended higher as the switch to the new weekend scheme could help attract new foreign capital to the country and the stock market, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

"The initiative should create more overlap with world markets and could facilitate business and investment."

In Abu Dhabi, the index gave up early gains to close 0.3% lower.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) retreated 0.8%, with Fawry for Banking Technology and Electronic Payment (FWRY.CA) losing 6.4%.

($1 = 3.7513 riyals)

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Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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