April 5 (Reuters) – Major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued in early trade on Wednesday, as signs of a slowing US labour market made investors nervous about the economic outlook.
Asia trade was thinned by holidays in Hong Kong and China, leaving MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index excluding Japan faring little better than flat, while Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.6% and was set for the biggest one-day percentage fall since mid-March.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index eased 0.2%, hit by a 1.5% fall in Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services and a 0.4% decrease in Al Rajhi Bank.
Elsewhere, Arabian Centres Co slid 4.4% as the stock traded ex-dividend.
In the previous two sessions, the Saudi index posted sharp gains after a surprise announcement by OPEC+ to cut more production jolted markets.
Surprise new cuts to the OPEC+ group’s output targets could push oil prices towards USD 100 a barrel, setting the scene for another clash with the West grappling with higher interest rates, analysts and traders said on Monday.
Dubai’s main share index dropped 0.1%, with utility firm Dubai Electricity and Water Authority losing 0.8%.
In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 0.2%.
Separately, non-oil business activity growth in the United Arab Emirates bounced back to the fastest pace in five months in March, a business survey showed on Wednesday, supported by new orders and the quickest jobs growth in almost seven years.
The Qatari index fell 0.2%, on course to end two sessions of gains, weighed down by 1.7% fall in Commercial Bank.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh Venkateshwaran)