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Oil Drags Markets Lower as U.S. Weighs Reserves Release

March 31 (Reuters) – Major Gulf stock markets fell on Thursday, dragged down by a drop in crude prices as the United States weighs its largest-ever drawdown from its oil reserves to control rising prices.

The United States is considering releasing up to 180 million barrels of oil over several months from strategic reserves, four U.S. sources said, as the White House tries to lower fuel prices that have surged since Russia invaded Ukraine late last month.

Meanwhile, OPEC+ sources said on Wednesday the producer alliance which includes Russia was likely to stick to its existing deal to gradually increase oil production, a view echoed by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo. 

The full ministerial meeting of a joint technical committee that advises OPEC+ on market fundamentals will take place later in the day.

Asian stocks declined as China reported weak manufacturing data and uncertainty over the war in Ukraine dragged on.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index shed 0.2%, with oil giant Saudi Aramco down 0.4%.

Dubai’s main share index edged lower, weighed down by real estate and financial stocks. The index is expected to gain more than 3% for the week.

The region has been an investor favourite over the past week since state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) opened for subscription.

Shares of Dubai Financial Market fell 0.4% after the company began trading ex-dividend.

The Abu Dhabi index was trading flat.

The Qatari index dropped 0.3%, dragged lower by Qatar Islamic Bank and Industries Qatar.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Source: Reuters