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Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting.

The Fed is widely expected to skip raising interest rates this month after a softer U.S. inflation report.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index advanced 1%, buoyed by a 2.2% rise in Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services and a 1.1% increase in Al Rajhi Bank.

Dubai’s main share index edged 0.1% higher, helped by a 1.8% gain in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.

The Dubai bourse stabilized to a certain extent, while traders awaited the U.S. central bank’s interest rate decision, said Daniel Takieddine, CEO MENA at BDSwiss.

Gulf bourses end higher on hopes of a Fed rate pause

“The main index could come under pressure if the Federal Reserve makes a surprise decision while the market is already exposed to potential price corrections.”

The Abu Dhabi index closed 0.4% higher.

Oil prices - a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets - rose ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate decision and bullish oil demand growth forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC.

In Qatar, the index climbed 0.8%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar putting on 1.3%.

The Qatari stock market rebounded to a certain extent after a month of correction, with investors returning to the market, said TAkieddine.

“However, they could strongly react to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.”

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index closed flat.

======================================
 SAUDI ARABIA    gained 1% to 11,533
 ABU DHABI       rose 0.4% to 9,393
 DUBAI           added 0.1% to 3,717
 QATAR           was up 0.8% to 10,292
 EGYPT           was flat at 17,873
 BAHRAIN         firmed 0.2% to 1,958
 OMAN            eased 0.2% to 4,687
 KUWAIT          added 0.7% to 7,742
======================================

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