DUBAI: Major stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Thursday, with the Saudi index registering a second weekly loss, as Asian stocks fell on worries over rising cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Fresh COVID-19 outbreaks fuelled by the Delta variant are raising concerns about the strength of the economic recovery globally.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index fell 0.3%, hit by a 1.3% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.7% decline in Saudi Arabian Mining Company .
In the kingdom, stocks were also pressured by declining oil prices.
Brent crude was down 71 cents, or 1%, at $71.54 a barrel by 0939 GMT, as renewed concerns about demand cut short a three-day rally, and as Mexico restored some oil production.
In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 0.5%, dragged down by a 1.2% drop in Emirates Telecommunications Group and a 1.6% decrease in Alpha Dhabi Holding.
"Markets are holding their breath in the wake of the US Federal Reserve symposium. The president of the Federal Reserve is poised to speak on Friday, dropping a hint on when the asset purchasing program will be downsized," said Daniel Takieddine, senior market analyst at FXPrimus.
Later in the day, US GDP figures are expected to confirm the direction of the global economy. The output of the world's biggest economy is forecast to be higher for the second quarter, Takieddine said.
Dubai's main share index edged down 0.1%, hit by a 0.5% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.
The Qatari benchmark lost 0.3%, with petrochemical firm Industries Qatar sliding 2.3%.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index gained 0.6%, led by a 10% surge in Misr Fertilizers, which reported a sharp rise in first-half consolidated net profit.
SAUDI ARABIA: fell 0.3% to 11,129
ABU DHABI: lost 0.5% to 7,625
DUBAI: eased 0.1% to 2,900
QATAR: down 0.3% to 11,103
EGYPT: rose 0.6% to 11,126
BAHRAIN: added 0.3% to 1,667
OMAN: up 0.1% to 3,963
KUWAIT: added 0.4% to 7,447.