Most Gulf markets end lower as oil prices drop; Egypt up

A trader looks on near electronic boards showing stock market data at Bahrain Bourse in Manama
A trader looks on near electronic boards showing stock market data at Bahrain Bourse after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, in Manama, Bahrain, November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

March 23 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets ended lower on Thursday, as oil prices declined after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell highlighted banking sector credit risks for the world's largest economy.

Crude prices — a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets — slid 0.6% on Thursday with Brent crude down to $76.21 at 1145 GMT.

Powell said on Wednesday that banking industry stress could trigger a credit crunch, with "significant" implications for an economy that U.S. central bank officials projected would slow even more this year than previously thought.

Dubai's benchmark index (.DFMGI) fell 0.9% after rising for two sessions, weighed down by losses in industrial and financial sectors with real estate developer Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) losing 2.1% and the emirate's largest lender, Emirates NBD (ENBD.DU), falling 0.4%.

The low-cost flyer Air Arabia (AIRA.DU) lost 7.1% in its steepest intraday decline since Nov. 28, 2021 as it was trading ex-dividend.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.FTFADGI) fell 0.6%, after gaining in the previous session, dragged down by a 1.7% drop in blue-chip property developer Aldar Properties (ALDAR.AD) and a 2% decline in conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding (ALPHADHABI.AD).

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD), the largest lender in the United Arab Emirates, slumped 2% and Multiply Group (MULTIPLY.AD) lost 2.6%.

Abu Dhabi-based investment company Multiply shareholders on Thursday approved that no dividend would be distributed for 2022.

"With interest rates expected to go higher this year, the tighter monetary policy could have a stronger impact on stock markets and on oil demand in the US and Europe," said Farah Mourad, Senior Market Analyst of XTB MENA.

"However, improvements in the Chinese economy and changes in monetary policy could alleviate these pressures". The benchmark index (.TASI) in Saudi Arabia ended 0.9% higher, extending previous session's gains. The index was lifted by gains in almost all sectors with world's largest Islamic bank Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) surging 1.2% and oil giant Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) climbing 1.4%.

The Qatari index (.QSI) edged up 0.3%, extending its three-session rally with finance and industry sectors witnessing gains, while the energy and materials were in the red.

The region's largest lender, Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA), added 0.7% and conglomerate Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) gained 0.9%.

Qatar Gas Transport (QGTS.QA) and Mesaieed Petro (MPHC.QA) lost 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) surged 2.4%, after declining in the previous session, with all sectors in the positive territory.

Commercial International Bank (COMI.CA) and Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKHO.CA) climbed 2.3% and 10%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said on Wednesday it had approved a new $7 billion partnership agreement with Egypt for 2023-2027.

Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.