Most major Gulf markets fall on Fed rate-hike worries

Most major stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Thursday, with the Saudi index on course to post its sixth weekly loss as concerns around Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and economic slowdown weighed on sentiment.

Traders expect a half-point hike from the Fed on Dec. 14.

Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar and follow the Fed's policy moves closely, exposing the region to a direct impact from monetary tightening in the world's largest economy.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index TASI dropped 0.5%, trading at its lowest in more than 19 months, weighed down by a 1.7% fall in oil giant Saudi Aramco 2222.

Saudi Arabia does not disclose the oil price it bases its budget on. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the Saudi fiscal break-even oil price at $73.3 a barrel this year and $66.8 next year.

Dubai's main share index DFMGI fell 0.6%, hit by a 2.7% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties EMAAR.

In Abu Dhabi, the index FADGI dropped 0.7%.

The Qatari index GNRI added 0.2%, helped by a 1.1% rise in Qatar National Bank QNBK.

Brent crude futures BRN1! rose $1, or 1.3%, to $78.17 per barrel by 0750 GMT, amid optimism over China's easing of anti-COVID measures, recouping losses after slumping to the lowest levels so far this year in the previous session.

($1 = 3.7600 riyals)

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