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Major Gulf Markets Gain in Early Trade on Wednesday

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Major stock markets in the Gulf edged higher in early trade on Wednesday, even as hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation fuelled concerns about further delay in interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve.

U.S. consumer prices increased more than expected in January amid rises in the costs of shelter and healthcare, but the pick-up in inflation likely does not change expectations that the Fed will start cutting rates in the first half of this year.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates usually mirror any monetary policy change in the United States.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index edged 0.1% higher, helped by a 0.5% rise in oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Aramco has started trading a U.S. crude oil grade that underpins the global Brent benchmark in a process run by oil-index publisher S&P Global Commodity Insights, the publisher said.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark stock index gained 0.6%.

India and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed an agreement on a trade corridor that aims to connect Europe with India through parts of the Middle East by sea and rail, an ambitious plan backed by the U.S. and the European Union.

Dubai's main share index added 0.1%, led by a 1.8% rise in Emaar Properties after the blue-chip developer's board doubled full-year cash dividend to 50 fils a share from 25 fils per share in 2022.

Meanwhile, Shuaa Capital slumped about 7% as annual losses widened. The investment bank and asset manager reported full-year net loss of 866 million dirhams ($235.82 million) compared to a loss of 135 million dirhams in 2022.

The Qatari benchmark gained 0.8%, with Qatar Islamic Bank rising 1.5% and petrochemical maker Industries Qatar advancing 1%.

($1 = 3.6723 UAE dirham)

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Source: Reuters

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