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Most stock markets in the Gulf fell in early trade on Thursday on lower oil price, although the Saudi index bucked the trend to trade higher.

Prices of oil - a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets - fell as traders warily watched for signs of progress on talks to raise the US debt ceiling, after surging nearly 3% in the previous session on optimism over US fuel demand.

Dubai’s main share index fell 0.3%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties losing 0.8% and toll operator Salik Company retreating 1%. In Abu Dhabi, the index declined 0.3%.

The Qatari benchmark dropped 0.3%, a day after advancing 2% following media reports that the Gulf state was planning to boost the stock market to attract foreigners.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained 0.4%, with the country’s biggest lender Saudi National Bank gaining 1.8% and oil giant Saudi Aramco putting on 0.3%.

Separately, the kingdom’s First Milling Co said it intended to proceed with an initial public offering (IPO) and listing of its ordinary shares on the Saudi Exchange.

First Mills plans to announce the price range on May 18, and set a final price for its shares on May 31, it said.

Gulf stock markets end mixed; Egypt gains

President Joe Biden and top US congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday underscored their determination to reach a deal soon to raise the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avoid an economically catastrophic default.

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