Major Gulf markets ease on recession worries

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by Reuters

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Major Gulf markets ease on recession worries

April 6 (Reuters) - Major stock markets in the Gulf inched lower in early deals on Thursday, as mounting evidence of a U.S. slowdown fuelled worries about a possible global recession.

The U.S. services sector slowed more than expected in March as demand cooled, while a measure of prices paid by services businesses fell to the lowest in nearly three years, giving the Federal Reserve a boost in the fight against inflation.

As signs have built this week for a sharp U.S. slowdown, traders have been pricing for a more dovish Fed. Money markets now see the odds of a further quarter-point hike at the May meeting versus a pause as a coin toss. And 71 basis points of easing are priced by year-end. FEDWATCH

Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar and follow the Fed's policy moves closely, exposing the region to a direct impact from monetary tightening in the world's largest economy.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index (.TASI) eased 0.1%, dragged by a 0.8% fall in Saudi National Bank (1180.SE), the country's biggest lender.

Oil Prices - a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - fell as weak U.S. economic data stoked recession fears.

Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) was down 0.1%.

Shares in UAE-based currency exchange company Al Ansari Financial Services (ALANSARI.DU) climbed 16.5% above the listing price on their market debut after raising $210.5 million in an initial public offering for 10% of the business.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.FTFADGI) dropped 0.2%, with top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) down 0.6%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares (.MIAP00000PUS) was down 0.9%, accelerating declines as the trading day unfolded.

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