Most regional markets finished lower yesterday as investors booked recent gains amid a lack of local drivers but thin trading limited losses.
Dubai's benchmark fell 0.8 percent to 1,593 points, making its largest decline since Sept. 10 as property-related stocks headed losers. Trading volumes slumped by nearly half from the previous session, indicating limited selling pressure.
Builder Arabtec fell 4 percent, developer Deyaar dropped 1.3 percent and contractor Drake & Scull slid 1.7 percent.
"There are a lot of people that are still out of the market and would love to get in, but this won't happen unless the UAE's economic strength translates into earnings," said Amer Khan, fund manager, Shuaa Asset Management.
Three-quarter earnings season, which starts early October, is the only near-term expected catalyst for local markets.
"There should be a jump in quarterly growth, which will lend more steam to sentiment and the market should be okay going into year-end," Khan said.
Property and banking stocks dominated local bourses, with energy, retail and hospitality largely absent despite making up a large part of the economy. This disconnect means investors struggle to use local stocks as a proxy for domestic growth. The economy is forecast to grow 3.2 percent in 2012, according to a July Reuters poll.
Abu Dhabi's measure also retreated, slipping 0.2 percent to 2,611 points in its fourth decline in five sessions since Sept. 16's six-month peak.
In Qatar, the index fell 0.4 percent to 8,568 points in thin trade, taking its losses to 0.6 percent since Monday's 19-week high.
"The (low volumes) are a good sign," said a Doha-based trader who asked not to be identified. "People are waiting for third-quarter earnings and banks are expected to lead. We reached certain resistance levels so some selling is natural."
Elsewhere, Oman's index slipped 0.3 percent to 5,589 points, lower for a fourth session in five since Sept. 16's 11-week high. Investors booked recent gains, with many preferring to sit on cash until third-quarter earnings season starts next month.
Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) and HSBC Oman were the main drags, falling 0.5 and 0.9 percent respectively.
Volumes hit a six-week high. National Bank of Oman accounts for more than half of all shares changing hands, with its trading likely swelled by a block trade. The lender's shares end flat.
"We've been seeing increased interest from foreign and regional investors into Oman - they're putting money into the blue chips," said Sankar Kailasam, Gulf Baader Capital Markets' head of asset management.
These include Bank Muscat, Omantel and Renaissance Services, Kailasam said.
Bank Muscat ended flat, while Renaissance fell 1.5 percent.
"People are now taking profits and sitting on cash for the time being - they will return when Q3 results start to come out in about 10 days," said Kailasam.
Bucking the regional trend, Kuwait's benchmark added 0.2 percent to 5,892 points, its fourth gain in five sessions as volumes reached a four-week high.
Small-cap companies dominated trading, with the four most active stocks accounting for 40 percent of all shares traded.
Telecom operator Zain climbed 1.4 percent and Gulf Bank gained 1.3 percent. Commercial Bank of Kuwait, said it plans to liquidate its investment unit, a bourse filing after trading hours said. The stock was down 1.5 percent.
It said the move "will not have any negative impact on the financial position of the bank", without giving further details.