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DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Gulf reversed early losses to close higher on Tuesday despite Omicron coronovirus variant fears as the markets await central banks’ decisions regarding their policies this week.

The global balancing act begins Tuesday when the Federal Reserve convenes for a two-day meeting, and includes new monetary policy statements by the US central bank on Wednesday, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England on Thursday, and the Bank of Japan on Friday.

Dubai’s main share index advanced 0.9%, rising for a 10th consecutive session as investors remain optimistic regarding the market’s potential to grow with upcoming initial public offerings.

Sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank gained 2%, while top bank Emirates NBD added 1.8%.

Last month, the government announced plans for 10 state-backed companies to be listed as part of efforts to boost activity on the local bourse.

The listings are aimed at making Dubai a more competitive market against bigger bourses in the region, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, which are achieving larger listings and strong liquidity.

In Qatar, the index was up 0.6%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar putting on 1.1%.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index closed flat, as gains in petrochemical shares were offset by declines in financials.

Investors remain cautious in front of the threat of omicron and the expected faster asset purchases tapering pace from the Federal Reserve, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

Brent crude oil futures rose 27 cents, or 0.36%, to $74.66 a barrel by 1231 GMT.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Monday raised its world oil demand forecast for the first quarter of 2022 and stuck to its timeline for a return to pre-pandemic levels of oil use, saying the Omicron coronavirus variant would have a mild and brief impact.

In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 1.1%, dragged down by a 8.9% slide in Alpha Dhabi Holding.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index dropped 0.7%, hit by a 0.6% fall in Commercial International Bank Egypt.

SAUDI ARABIA ended flat at 11,025

ABU DHABI dropped 1.1% to 8,842

DUBAI added 0.9% to 3,276

QATAR gained 0.6% to 11,727

EGYPT lost 0.7% to 11,618

BAHRAIN was up 0.1% to 1,786

OMAN rose 0.5% to 4,026

KUWAIT added 0.3% to 7,618.

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