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DUBAI: Most Gulf markets ended lower on Wednesday, mirroring global stocks as investors waited to see if the US Federal Reserve will signal a faster path toward policy normalisation than previously expected.

Dubai’s main share index fell 0.8%, pressured by a 1.4% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.9% decrease in top lender Emirates NBD.

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%, snapping five sessions of gains, hit by a 1.3% fall in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

State-owned Abu Dhabi Airports has called on almost 3 billion dirhams ($816.82 million) worth of guarantees issued by local banks on behalf of contractors working on an airport expansion project already delayed by several years, Reuters reported, citing sources.

It could pressure balance sheets of banks already heavily exposed to the UAE’s construction sector, sluggish for years amid a slowdown in infrastructure and property projects.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index lost 0.6%, with Al Rajhi Bank falling 0.9%, while Saudi Telecom Company retreated 2.5%.

“There are also concerns over the sustained drops in demand for oil. With countries yet to return to their pre-COVID economic activity levels, demand for oil remains relatively low compared to what it was at the start of last year,” Michael Stark, research analyst at Exness, said.

Meanwhile, Indian state refiners are planning to cut oil imports from Saudi Arabia by about a quarter in May, in an escalating stand-off with Riyadh following OPEC’s decision to ignore calls from New Delhi to help the global economy with higher supply.

In Qatar, the benchmark concluded 0.8% lower, with Qatar Navigation falling more than 8%, as the stock went ex-dividend.

Qatar Navigation, a top Doha-based shipping and logistics group, saw its biggest intraday fall in nearly a year.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index fell 1%, with the country’s largest lender Commercial International Bank shedding 2.2%.

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