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DUBAI: Gulf stock markets fell on Wednesday, with banking shares taking the biggest hit across the markets, as investors eagerly await Thursday’s US inflation data that is likely to shape the size of the Fed’s next interest rate hike.

Farah Mourad, senior market analyst of XTB MENA, said GCC stock markets were seeing some uncertainty as global growth expectations came under pressure with volatile energy prices.

Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is usually guided by Fed policy decisions because most regional currencies are pegged to the US dollar, exposing them to direct impacts from any Fed monetary tightening.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index eased 0.2%, pressured by financial stocks, with lenders Saudi National Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi falling 1.2% and 2.1%, respectively.

Abu Dhabi’s share index declined 0.7%, dragged down by a 2.2% fall in UAE’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

Dubai’s main share index lost 0.5%, led by a decline in its financial stocks as lenders Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates NBD Bank tumbled 2.5% and 1.5%, respectively.

The benchmark Qatari index slipped 1.3%, as Qatar National Bank, the Gulf’s biggest bank by assets, declined more than 3%.

QNB reported after market close on Wednesday a 9% rise in annual net profit after adjusting for hyperinflation related to its business in Turkey.

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