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RIYADH: Stock markets in the Gulf fell on Sunday amid warnings of possible further interest rate hikes from the U.S Federal Reserve, and worries of escalation in the Middle East conflict.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Friday the US economy’s strength and continued tight labor markets could require still tougher borrowing conditions to control inflation.

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.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index was down for a third consecutive session, ending 1.5% lower, with all sectors in the red.

Elm Company dropped 2.3%, while Al Rajhi Bank , the world’s largest Islamic bank by assets, slipped 2.1%.

The Qatari index fell for a fifth straight session, ending 0.9% lower, with Industries Qatar dropping 2.2% and Qatar Navigation sliding 3%.

The region’s largest lender Qatar National Bank dropped 2.1%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index climbed 2.3%, with almost all stocks in positive territory, including Eastern Co and Talaat Mostafa Group which surged 6.9% and 8.1% respectively.

Meanwhile, concerns about the risk of the Israel-Hamas war mushrooming into a wider Middle East conflict rose on Sunday, with the US sending more military assets to the region as Israel pummeled Gaza overnight and also hit targets in Lebanon and Syria.

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