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DUBAI: Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Wednesday, as oil prices were weighed down by concerns that surging COVID-19 cases in India would pressure fuel demand in the world’s third-biggest oil importer.

India on Wednesday reported another record increase in the daily death toll from COVID-19.

Brent crude futures for June declined $1.15, or 1.7%, to $65.42 a barrel at 0100 GMT.

The movement in oil prices is a key catalyst for the Gulf region’s financial markets.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index eased 0.2%, with Riyad Bank shedding 1.4% and oil behemoth Saudi Aramco down 0.4%.

In Dubai, the main share index fell 0.9%, with its top lender Emirates NBD and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties losing more than 1% each. The Abu Dhabi index retreated 1.5%, dragged down by a 2% fall in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and telecoms giant Etisalat.

The United Arab Emirates had warned that it could impose restrictions on people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the region’s business and tourism hub pushes its immunisation campaign. The Gulf Arab state on Tuesday recorded 1,903 new infections to bring its total to 500,860 cases.

In Qatar, the index closed 0.7% lower, hit by a 2.1% fall in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar. Elsewhere, Qatar National Bank, the Gulf’s largest lender, slipped 0.5% after EFG Hermes cut its price target on the lender’s shares. Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index finished 0.2% higher, extending its gains for a fifth consecutive session.

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