Major Gulf stock markets ended lower on Sunday as investors in the region reacted to comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signalling the US economy would need tight monetary policy “for some time” to bring inflation under control.
Following in their global peers’ footsteps, Gulf markets came under downward pressure as investors worried about a grimmer growth outlook amid a more hawkish policy stand from US Fed chief.
“His comments were more bullish than anticipated by investors and signalled that the central bank is not considering suspending the tightening cycle prematurely even with the decline in inflation in the US,” said Farah Mourad, Senior Market Analyst of XTB MENA.
“The central bank’s tone could fuel risk aversion among international investors and push them away from other markets,” Mourad added.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index (.TASI) dropped 0.5 per cent, mostly pressured by lenders as almost all fell into negative territory. Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) shed 1.4 per cent and Saudi National Bank (1180.SE) sagged 1.3 per cent.
Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including the kingdom, have their currencies pegged to the dollar and generally follow the Fed’s policy moves, exposing the region to a direct impact from monetary tightening there.
The oil giant Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) retreated 1.7 per cent as a slowdown in global growth may potentially cut oil demand.
Financial stocks also pulled the Qatar index (.QSI) 0.4 per cent lower, with the Gulf’s largest lender Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA) dropping 1.4 per cent.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index (.EGX30) fell 1.1 per cent as E-Finance for Digital and Financial Investments (EFIH.CA) sank 5.5 per cent and Commercial International Bank (COMI.CA) lost 1.2 per cent.