Most Gulf markets gain as investors shrug off US debt-ceiling talks

An investor walks through the Dubai Financial Market in Dubai
An investor walks through the Dubai Financial Market after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

May 17 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday as investors shrugged off concerns around the U.S. government's debt-ceiling negotiations.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday prepared for the critical debt-ceiling talks, with a little more than two weeks to go before the government could run short of money to pay its bills.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) gained 0.6%, driven by a 3.6% jump in the country's biggest lender Saudi National Bank (1180.SE) and a 3% increase in Riyad Bank (1010.SE).

The Saudi stock market remains in a positive direction overall, but is starting to see some challenges to maintaining clear gains, said Gabi Dahduh, Senior Relationship Manager at

"The main index could be weighed by the deteriorating conditions in oil markets over the short to medium term."

Prices of oil - a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - were steady after a surprise rise in U.S. crude inventories stoked demand concerns as economic worries competed with a tighter supply outlook for later in the year.

However, oil giant Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) finished 0.9% lower as the firm went ex-dividend.

The Qatari index (.QSI) outperformed the region to close 2% higher, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory including Qatar Islamic Bank (QISB.QA), which jumped 4.5%, following media reports that the Gulf state is planning to boost the stock market to attract foreigners.

Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) snapped a four-session losing streak to finish 1.6% higher, with Emirates Central Cooling Systems (EMPOWER.DU) advancing 3%.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.DFMGI) rose 0.5%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) declined 1.1%, with Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals Co (SKPC.CA) retreating 6.7%.

According to Dahduh, the Egyptian bourse stabilized to a certain extent but continued to record losses as international investors' remained sellers due to global concerns and a declining risk appetite.

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza

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