MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf bourses may be caught in a lull ahead of Ramadan
United Arab Emirates stock markets

DUBAI:  Stock markets in the Gulf may follow global markets lower on Sunday, although activity is expected to be weak ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

U.S. data showed the slowest pace of jobs growth in more than five years, dashing expectations that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in June. Wall Street and European stocks fell, with the S&P 500 index closing down 0.3 percent and the Euro Stoxx retreating 1.0 percent.

Brent crude futures ended the session down 40 cents at $49.64 per barrel. Brent’s price remained almost double January lows, notching its eighth weekly gain in nine weeks.

Riyadh’s index ended the week flat, buoyed by petrochemical shares and non-cyclical sectors.

“The stock market is going through a consolidation and adjustment phase,” said a Riyadh-based analyst, who also said this week would see some funds rotating into long-term plays, including healthcare.

Volumes are expected to be weak throughout Ramadan, which starts on June 6, barring any positive catalysts or further announcements about the kingdom’s economic reform plan.

Trading activity has shrunk year-on-year during Ramadan over the past five years.

Dubai’s index, last at 3,263 points, is showing bearish technical indicators, trading below its 50-day simple moving average. Further profit-taking could be triggered if the index breaks below the 100-day moving average at 3,232 points.

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