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Mideast Stocks: Most Gulf Markets Gain Ahead of US Inflation Data

Mideast Stocks: Most Gulf Markets Gain Ahead of US Inflation Data

Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday, ahead of U.S. inflation data, which is being closely watched for clues about when the U.S. Federal Reserve might cut interest rates. Strong U.S. jobs data earlier in February meant investors reduced expectations for a Fed rate cut at its next meeting, with markets pricing an 84.5% chance of rates remaining unchanged in March. 

Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council is usually guided by Fed policy because most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.7%, led by a 3.8% rise in Saudi Arabian Mining Co and a 1.5% increase in oil giant Saudi Aramco. Saudi Arabia's energy minister on Monday said the Kingdom has plenty of spare oil production capacity, after the world's biggest oil exporter announced last month that it would scale back its long-term capacity expansion plans.

The Qatari benchmark finished 0.3% higher, with Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat) surging 8.3%, extending gains from the previous session when it rose 10%. On Saturday, QatarEnergy said it has selected Nakilat to be the owner and operator of up to 25 conventional-size LNG carriers.

Dubai's main share index climbed 0.7%, boosted by a 3.1% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties, stretching gains from the previous session on upbeat profit. On Thursday, Emaar reported annual net profit of 11.63 billion dirhams ($3.17 billion), up from 6.83 billion dirhams year ago.

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.2%. However, ADNOC Gas gained 0.6%, after reporting a rise in quarterly profit. Oil prices slipped as investors indulged in some profit-taking on Middle East tensions and as refining outages squeezed refined products markets.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index advanced 1.1%, led by a 4.5% jump in top lender Commercial International Bank.

SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.7% to 12,296
ABU DHABI fell 0.2% to 9,324
DUBAI gained 0.7% to 4,211
QATAR added 0.5% to 10,093
EGYPT up 1.1% to 28,495
BAHRAIN was up 0.3% to 2,077
KUWAIT increased 0.3% to 8,080

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)
Source: ZAWYA