Dubai and Qatar’s benchmarks slumped to three-month lows and other local markets were also lower as investors cut risk ahead of the regional weekend, with sentiment shaken by sustained losses on global markets.
Dubai’s index finished 0.8 percent lower at 1,515 point, its lowest close since Feb. 12. It held above technical support around 1,500 points.
Builder Arabtec fell 6.7 percent, trimming year-to-date gains to 94.8 percent and accounting for a fifth of all shares traded on the index.
Elsewhere in the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s index slipped 0.1 percent, down for a sixth session.
“People have repositioned to reduce risk exposure due to the global scene,” said Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments. “We’re still highly correlated to international markets and taking the lead from performance in Europe and US.”
European shares fell, with weak Chinese trade data stoking fears of slower growth and undermining risk appetite as European leaders struggled to contain a worsening debt crisis.
In the capital, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. gained 0.8 percent. It said its first-quarter net profit more than tripled, helped by one-time asset sale.
The emirate’s measure eased 0.1 percent as property stocks dragged. Sorouh Real Estate and Aldar Properties slip 1.9 and 3.7 percent respectively.
Elsewhere, Qatar’s index lost 0.7 percent to end at its lowest close since Feb. 16.
“The index broke a technical support yesterday at 8,608.64, and we’re seeing a ripple effect today as well,” said a Doha-based trader who asked not to be identified.
Qatar Telecom was the main drag on the index, down 10 percent after a 40 percent capital increase.
Barwa Real Estate and Gulf International Services shed 0.6 and 1.2 percent respectively.
In Egypt, the main index declined 0.3 percent in thin volume as concerns persist over whether the country’s presidential election will be held on time despite repeated reassurances from the army rulers that it will.
The index rallied above 5,000 points this week but the gains fizzled out as investors awaited fresh signs that the vote — the conclusion to a transition from army to civilian rule - is on track following a chaotic build-up marked by disqualifications of some candidates and deadly street clashes in Cairo last week.
Legal challenges to the election procedures and the list of candidates during the build-up to the vote mean that uncertainty over the outcome is likely to persist, traders say.
“We expect volatility in this market until there’s an outcome to the election,” said Omar Darwish at CIBC. “Foreigners are net sellers and have been for a while and ... there is a lot of selling pressure from local retail investors too.”
Commercial International Bank rose 1 percent in heavy trade after it reported a 64 percent jump in first-quarter net income, beating forecasts.
The benchmark index, which is at 5,015 points, is still up 38.5 percent this year after the Egyptian equity market lost around half of its value in 2011, a year of political and economic turmoil.
Elsewhere, Kuwait and Oman’s bourses ended little changed.
Commercial Bank of Kuwait climbed 2.5 percent despite posting a sharp drop in quarterly earnings. Its net profit fell to 329,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1.18 million), down from 1.33 million dinars in the year-earlier period.