DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Wednesday as sliding oil prices remained a concern for investors, while oil importer Egypt posted gains.
Saudi Arabia's index fell 1.7 percent shortly after opening, largely weighed down by bank stocks. Shares in Al Rajhi Bank dropped 3.0 percent, Samba Financial Group lost 2.9 percent and Bank AlBilad tumbled 3.8 percent.
The price of Brent crude fell towards $78 per barrel on Wednesday as market players were left guessing whether or not OPEC oil ministers would agree on a substantial output cut at their meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
Oil's recent weakness has prompted a sell-off on equity markets across the Gulf and many investors may stay on the sidelines until it finds a floor.
Dubai's bourse was down 2.0 percent and Abu Dhabi edged down 0.7 percent.
Kuwait's index fell 0.3 percent while Qatar was resilient and edged up 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, the main index in oil-importer Egypt rose 0.9 percent in a broad rally.
Cheaper oil could help Egypt reduce its foreign trade gap and contain inflation, although some market players fear it may also reduce the volume of financial aid coming from the Gulf.
Shares in Ezz Steel gained 1.0 percent after an appeals court on Tuesday lowered a fine for monopolistic practices levied against its founder Ahmed Ezz to 10 million pounds ($1.40 million) from 100 million pounds.