Most Gulf markets ease on US rate cut concerns

By Thomson Reuters Apr 16, 2024 | 3:20 AM

(Reuters) – Most major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued in early trade on Tuesday, tracking Asian shares lower as stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales for March further reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to be in a rush to cut interest rates this year.

Stronger-than-expected March retail sales data, along with other recent data from the United States, provided further evidence that the world’s largest economy was doing well at the end of the first quarter.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index dropped 0.2%, hit by a 0.6% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.4% decline in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East kept risk sentiment in check.

In Qatar, the index dropped 0.3%, weighed down by a 0.7% fall in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar.

Dubai’s main share index lost 0.2%, with top lender Emirates NBD falling 0.6%.

Separately, a franchisee of supermarket chain Spinneys, which operates in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, announced plans for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Dubai bourse and said on Tuesday it planned to expand into Saudi Arabia this year.

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged 0.1% higher, helped by a 0.2% gain in First Abu Dhabi Bank.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)