Sept 21 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf fell on Wednesday as investors braced for a hefty interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve, while escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine added to concerns.
The Fed is seen raising its benchmark lending rate by 75 basis points (bps) to tame persistently high inflation, although some traders expect a full percentage point increase.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.4%, hit by 0.6% falls in both Al Rajhi Bank and oil giant Saudi Aramco.
Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, have their currencies pegged to the dollar and generally follow the Fed's policy moves, directly exposing the region to U.S. monetary tightening.
Dubai's main share index fell 1.1%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties retreating 2.3%.
Traders secured their gains, responding to the increasing tension in Europe as well as the concerns around the Fed's decision later today, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst at XTB MENA.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had signed a decree on partial mobilisation, adding that he was defending Russian territories and that the West wanted to destroy the country.
In Abu Dhabi, the index closed 0.4% lower, while the Qatari index fell 1.4%, with 17 of its 20 stocks trading in negative territory.
However, crude prices, a key factor for Gulf financial markets, jumped nearly 3% as Russia's move raised concerns of tighter oil and gas supply.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index fell 0.6%, snapping two sessions of gains.
Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan