DUBAI: Major Gulf bourses ended lower yesterday on worries over higher US interest rates and the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting showed that a tight jobs market and unrelenting inflation could require the US central bank to raise rates sooner than expected and begin reducing its overall asset holdings.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.2 per cent, hit by a 1.3pc drop in the kingdom’s biggest lender Saudi National Bank and a 0.8pc decrease in oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Gulf state with a population of some 30 million, on Wednesday registered 3,045 new infections, up from some 1,000 cases announced on Sunday. That is still below a peak of more than 4,700 in June 2020.
The kingdom has cut February’s official selling price (OSP) for all grades of crude it is selling to Asia by at least $1 a barrel, Reuters reported yesterday, citing three sources with knowledge of the matter. The Saudi energy index was down 0.6pc.
Crude prices rose sharply, extending a rally from the previous session on escalating unrest in Opec+ oil producer Kazakhstan and supply outages in Libya.
Dubai’s main share index dropped 0.9pc, weighed down by a 1.8pc fall in top lender Emirates NBD.
In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1pc, hit by a 0.4pc fall in telecoms firm Etisalat. The UAE, the regional tourism and commercial hub, saw daily cases reaching 2,708 on Wednesday as it hosts a world fair during its peak tourist season.
Conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding on Wednesday said it had created the UAE’s largest healthcare provider in an agreement with Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ. Shares in Alpha Dhabi Holding retreated more than 1pc.