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Stock markets in the Gulf ended mixed on Thursday as oil prices fell, while less-hawkish minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting fuelled speculation of slower interest rate hikes.

Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar and generally follow the Federal Reserve’s policy moves, exposing the region to a direct impact from monetary tightening in the United States.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.2%, hit by a 1.5% fall in Retal Urban Development Co and a 4.7% slide in Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services.

The index posted its fifth consecutive weekly loss, declining 1.8%.

Separately, Saudi eyecare group Magrabi is considering a flotation of its hospitals business next year and has hired banks for the deal, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Dubai’s main share index ended flat.

In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.1%, helped by a 0.8% rise in the country’s biggest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Gulf markets mixed as Qatar ends 7-day losing streak

The Qatari index lost 0.3%, with Qatar Islamic Bank falling 1.1% and Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan retreating 1.5%.

The Qatari stock market followed the volatility in natural gas prices and could record some price corrections if a negative trend takes hold in energy prices, Farah Mourad, senior market analyst at XTB MENA, said.

Oil prices - a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets - fell, hovering around two-month lows as the level of a proposed G7 cap on the price of Russian oil raised doubts about how much it would limit supply.

The G7 group of nations is looking at a cap on Russian seaborne oil at $65-$70 a barrel, a European official said, though European Union governments have yet to agree on a price.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index advanced 1.4%.

========================================
 SAUDI ARABIA    fell 0.2% to 10,939
 ABU DHABI       up 0.1% to 10,535
 DUBAI           was flat at 3,325
 QATAR           dropped 0.3% to 11,867
 EGYPT           rose 1.4% to 12,779
 BAHRAIN         eased 0.1% to 1,863
 OMAN            rose 0.3% to 4,555
 KUWAIT          added 0.3% to 8,486
========================================

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