March 5, 2017 / 5:43 AM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf to consolidate, U.S. rate hike largely priced in

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DUBAI, March 5 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets look set to consolidate in narrow ranges on Sunday in the absence of major domestic news, with an expected U.S. interest rate hike later this month largely priced in.

Wall Street indexes ended marginally higher on Friday while oil prices stayed in the range of recent weeks. U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen confirmed the view that rates may rise at the next Fed meeting on March 14-15, barring any sharp deterioration in economic condition.

A U.S. rate hike would probably be positive for Saudi Arabian banks, which obtain much of their funding through-low interest deposits, and mildly negative for real estate industries in places such as Dubai. But Gulf investors have been pricing in a hike for weeks so stocks likely have little room to react further.

Dubai's index, last at 3,584 points, has immediate, minor technical support on its February low of 3,551 points; any break would point down to stronger support at the late December lows around 3,500 points. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

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