Most Gulf bourses end higher ahead of Fed rate decision
March 22 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets ended higher on Wednesday as fears of a banking crisis receded and hopes of a more modest interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted investor sentiment.
The markets now await the Fed's monetary policy decision, due later in the day, with most analysts expecting the Fed to raise the rate by 25 bps to tame inflation, but Goldman Sachs said a pause would be "warranted".
Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar usually mirror U.S. monetary policy changes.
The Qatari Stock index (.QSI) rose 1%, extending its previous session gains with all sectors in the positive territory, led by industry and finance.
The index heavyweight Islamic banks Qatar Islamic Bank (QISB.QA) and Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB.QA) added 0.7% and 1.5% respectively, while conglomerate Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) climbed 5.2%.
In Abu Dhabi, the index (.FTFADGI) rose 0.6%, snapping two sessions decline, supported by a 5.4% jump in ADNOC Gas (ADNOCGAS.AD) and a 2.8% rise in Alpha Dhabi Holding(ALPHADHABI.AD).
The United Arab Emirates' biggest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) and third-largest bank Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB.AD) climbed 1.6% and 2.5% respectively.
Dubai's benchmark index (.DFMGI) extended its previous sessions rally and ended 0.4% higher. The index was lifted by gains in most sectors with Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) rising 1.6% and cooling solutions provider Emirates Central Cooling (EMPOWER.DU) adding 2.5%.
The emirate's largest bank Emirates NBD (ENBD.DU) gained 0.8%.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) dropped 0.1%, ending three sessions gains. The index dragged down by losses in materials, health and finance sectors with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical (4013.SE) shedding 1.9% and Saudi Basic Industries (2010.SE) losing 1.2%.
Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) , the world's largest Islamic bank by assets, slid 2%, the steepest intraday fall in a month as it was trading ex-dividend.
Shares of Mouwasat Medical Services (4002.SE) shot up 10%, the highest intraday rise since March 2020.
The healthcare service provider reported on Wednesday a rise in full-year net profit, beating analysts' expectations.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) fell 0.5%, snapping two sessions gains with almost all sectors in the red with Fawry Banking (FWRY.CA) dropping 2.8% and Telecom Egypt (ETEL.CA) losing 4.2%%.
Meanwhile, Egypt has decided to suspend the sale of a stake in state-controlled telecoms services provider because of market conditions.
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