MIDEAST-STOCKS-Most Gulf bourses end near flat; Saudi slips

Credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE

By Md Manzer Hussain

March 24 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf ended little changed on Sunday and the Saudi index dipped, with weaker oil prices dampening sentiment after earlier gains fuelled by dovish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Oil prices LCOc1, a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, fell on Friday, with a possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza, the stronger dollar and lower U.S. gasoline demand all weighing.

The Qatari benchmark index .QSI was up marginally with gains in communication services, materials, consumer staples, and energy sectors offsetting the losses in finance, industry and real estate.

Qatar Gas Transport QGTS.QA and Ooredoo ORDS.QA rose 0.7% and 1.1%, respectively, while Qatar National BankQNBK.QA, the region's largest lender, and Industries Qatar IQCD.QA both closed down 0.3%.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index .TASI retreated 0.3%, after a previous session of gains with almost all sectors in the red.

ACWA Power 2082.SE fell 1.7% and Saudi National Bank1180.SE, the kingdom's largest lender, shed 0.9%.

Among other losers, ADES Holding 2382.SE and Savola Group 2050.SE fell 2.4% and 2.5%, respectively.

Earlier in the week, the Fed left rates unchanged but signaled it was still on track for three rate cuts this year, boosting stock markets around the world.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar, and any U.S. monetary policy changes are usually followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 was little changed as gains in materials, consumer staples, finance, and communication sectors offset losses in healthcare, industries and real estate.

E-Finance EFIH.CA and Fawry for Banking Technology FWRY.CA climbed 10.3% and 7.2% respectively, while Talaat Mostafa TMGH.CA dropped 4.2% and El Sewedy Electric SWDY.CA slipped 4.6%.

SAUDI ARABIA

.TASI dropped 0.3% to 12,796

KUWAIT

.BKP ended flat at 8,119

QATAR

.QSI ended flat at 10,215

EGYPT

.EGX30 ended flat at 29,060

BAHRAIN

.BAX gained 0.8% to 2,068

OMAN

.MSX30 ended flat at 4,793

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

((MdManzer.Hussain@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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