Most major stock markets in the Gulf were little changed in early trade on Thursday, while the Saudi market was slightly lower, as traders counted down to US data later in the day that is expected to show inflation easing which should pave the way for rate cuts as soon as September.

Monetary policy in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is usually guided by the Fed’s decisions as most regional currencies are pegged to the US dollar.

US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Capitol Hill overnight that “more good data” would build the case for the US central bank to cut interest rates.

Futures pricing implies about a 75% chance of a cut in September.

Economists forecast annual US CPI slowed to 3.1% in June from 3.3% in May.

Dubai’s main share index added 0.1%, helped by a 1.7% rise in budget airliner Air Arabia.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was up 0.1%. Crude prices - a catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets - gained as crude stocks fell after US refineries ramped up processing and as gasoline inventories eased, signalling stronger demand.

The Qatari benchmark rose 0.1%, with Qatar Gas Transport gaining 0.7%.

Gulf markets subdued on oil, ahead of earnings

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index, however, eased 0.2%, hit by a 0.5% fall in Al Rajhi Bank.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco expects to raise $6 billion from its three-part bond sale on Wednesday, the oil company’s first foray into the debt markets in three years, a document showed. Aramco shares were up 0.2%.

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