Arab Emirates markets fell on Tuesday after talk that Dubai may restructure bonds and Moody's warned the emirate faces refinancing risks, while other regional markets were mixed as downbeat global sentiment weighed.
Dubai's benchmark made its largest decline in five weeks, falling 1.2 percent to 1,383 points. It slipped for a second session since Sunday's five-week high.
Dubai, which narrowly averted a bond default in 2009, could use money raised by its sovereign wealth fund to help repay $3.8 billion in bonds owed by state-linked firms which mature next year. It is also considering to restructure bonds, according to sources.
Downbeat global markets also weighed on sentiment, with European stocks and the euro left reeling by a shock warning from Standard & Poor's that it might downgrade euro zone countries.
"It's natural to have some profit-taking but what may have caused it to be steeper is that global markets are down," said Haissam Arabi, chief executive at Gulfmena Investments.
"We were already expecting most of the region to be down. Moody's comments wouldn't have helped."
Abu Dhabi shed 0.8 percent to 2,451 points, with banks weighing.
In Qatar, the index slipped 0.4 percent to 8,750 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 0.8 percent. It broke a strong resistance at 8,800 points intraday, but low volumes meant it could not hold above this level, analysts say.
"We'd like for consolidation to happen between the ranges of 8,765 to 8,834 points and a healthy sustainable break above that would be definitive uptrend," said a Doha-based trader on condition of anonymity.
In Saudi Arabia, large-caps fell and petrochemicals stocks led a decline on the index which slipped 0.2 to 6,216.90 points from Monday's three-week high.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) dipped 0.5 percent, Saudi Kayan Petrochemical lost 1.4 percent and Samba Financial Group fell 0.6 percent.
"There was some pressure from European markets as well as profit-taking from yesterday's rally in petchems, which is normal," said Tarek Al-Mady, a Saudi-based financial analyst.
"Traders are shifting their money to safer bets like petchems and banks and positioning for year-end results," he added. "Heavyweights are expected to post good results."
In Kuwait, the index hit a three-week high as traders bet local stocks would mount an end-of-year rally.
Buying in small caps supported the index, with National Real Estate rising 7.4 percent, Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) soaring 8.5 percent and Gulf Investment House up 6.5 percent.
"We are seeing some foreign flow, mainly on banking stocks. Locals want a momentum play, hoping for a year-end rally," said a Kuwait-based trader, who declined to be named.
Meanwhile, traders continued to hope for political stability. After trading hours, the emir dissolved parliament following the resignation of the government last month in one of the deepest political crises in the oil-exporting state.
Markets in Oman and Egypt also bucked the downbeat trend, rising 0.1 percent each.