February 4, 2018 / 5:32 AM / in a year

MIDEAST STOCKS-Wall Street tumble likely to weigh on region

DUBAI, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Middle Eastern stock markets look likely to be dampened on Sunday by Friday’s sharp fall on Wall Street, after U.S. data showed the strongest annual wage growth since 2009 and raised the risk of more interest rate hikes than expected this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 2.5 percent on Friday, its biggest single-day percentage decline since June 2016.

The prospect of higher U.S. interest rates could be negative for Gulf real estate stocks in particular as rates are expressed through the region’s currency pegs - though higher oil prices and slow demand for loans in the Gulf have been narrowing interest rate spreads, so the effect may not be large.

Brent oil lost $1.07 to $68.58 a barrel on Friday.

In Saudi Arabia, Wataniya Insurance may attract interest after saying it signed a deal with National Commercial Bank to provide auto insurance coverage for vehicles sold by the bank under its financial leasing programme - a move that could help the company benefit from the planned lifting of the ban on women driving later this year. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

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