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Muscat bourse falls on weak sentiment

Muscat: A sluggish trend prevailed on the Muscat Securities Market with the general index shedding 6.89 points. The MSM 30 Index closed at 5,007.52 points.

The market turnover stood at OMR1.25 million, indicating a growth of 29.9 per cent compared to the last session.

The report released by MSM pointed out that the market value rose by 0.021 per cent to reach OMR17.89 billion.

The report added that the value of shares bought by non-Omani investors reached OMR93,000, showing a market share 7.38 per cent. The value of shares sold by non-Omani investors reached OMR174,000, comprising 13.89 per cent. The net non-Omani investment declined by 6.51 per cent to OMR82,000.

Gold steady

World gold prices were mostly flat on Monday as the dollar clawed back some recent losses and stocks rose, but US inflation fears kept buyers in the metal.

Spot gold was flat at $1,347.31 an ounce at 1124GMT. The metal rose 2.4 per cent last week in its biggest weekly gain in more than five months. US gold slipped 0.4 per cent to $1,350 per ounce.

“Gold is doing relatively well in a risk-on environment. The safe-haven appeal (in gold) is a bit in question but it has a lot to do with movements in the dollar which has recovered somewhat,” said ABN AMRO commodity strategist Georgette Boele.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was firm on Monday after shedding 1.4 per cent last week.

Investors piled into gold last week on concerns that US inflation could heat up.

In wider markets, world stocks extended their recovery on Monday while oil inched higher.

The minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting, held amid the equities tumble on Jan. 30-31, are due on Wednesday. Besides the outlook on rates, markets will be keen to see what the Fed made of the market gyrations.

A 37-page indictment filed by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Russia denounced the allegations.

Gold is often used as a hedge against geopolitical uncertainty.

Hedge funds and money managers cut their net long positions in Comex gold in the week to Feb. 13, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Trading is expected to be slower than usual this week due Lunar New Year celebrations in China. Monday is also a market holiday in the United States.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose 0.39 per cent to 824.54 tonnes on Friday.

Among other precious metals, silver was steady at $16.67 an ounce after falling 1.2 per cent in the previous session.

Platinum was up 0.8 per cent at $1,010 an ounce, after earlier touching its highest in over three weeks at $1,013.50.

Palladium rose 0.2 per cent to $1,045.99 an ounce after touching its highest in about two weeks.

“Palladium has been expensive and overvalued for a long time now so I could see it go lower from here,” ABN AMRO’s Boelle said.

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