DUBAI, March 27 Dubai's bourse dropped to an eight-week low on Wednesday, as investors booked gains from an early-year surge, while bargain hunting helped lift Egypt from a 15-week trough.
Dubai's real estate bellwether Emaar Properties and telecommunications operator Du led declines, slipping 3.6 and 2.9 percent.
The market hit a 39-month high in late February, boosted by a tentative recovery in property prices and a thriving tourism sector, but it has lost steam in the last several weeks, partly because some stocks have gone ex-dividend.
"Technically, stocks are overbought and the market will consolidate around these levels or a bit lower, and that's healthy," said Amer Khan, fund manager, Shuaa Asset Management.
"Medium-term, fundamentals and valuations have room to fill up. The UAE is recovering and the blue chips will reflect that."
The emirate's benchmark fell 1.6 percent to finish at 1,837 points, its lowest close since Jan. 28. The break below chart support at the March low of 1,860 points triggers a double top formed by the February and March peaks; this points down to around 1,770 points in coming days or weeks.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark declined 0.3 percent, trading in a tight range since climbing to a 40-month high in late February.
In Egypt, the main benchmark edged away from Tuesday's 15-week low, rising 0.7 percent as bargain-hunters returned despite the political instability.
Heavyweight Orascom Telecom climbed 4.8 percent on renewed hopes of a dispute resolution around its Algerian unit Djezzy. A newspaper reported earlier this week that Russian mobile firm Vimpelcom - Orascom's parent company - may soon reach a deal to sell a stake in Djezzy to Algeria's government.
Orascom Construction Industries gained 3.8 percent. OCI, Egypt's largest listed stock, is battling government charges it evaded 14 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.1 billion) in taxes.
Shares in National Societe Generale Bank tumbled 10 percent to 33.20 Egyptian pounds, their lowest since August and extending Tuesday's 4.1 percent drop.
The stock has been sliding since the government said it would levy a 10 percent tax on investors who made capital gains from Qatar National Bank's bid to acquire the Egyptian lender.
The stock exchange said on Wednesday that in response to requests by the public, it would allow investors during the day to "reverse their decision" to sell their NSGB shares to QNB in the Qatari bank's mandatory tender. The tender, at 38.65 pounds, was for the 23 percent of NSGB which QNB had not bought from Societe Generale.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia's market and Kuwait's bourse ended flat. Qatar gained 0.4 percent.
In Oman, the index fell 1.6 percent from Tuesday's 22-month high. Bluechip National Bank of Oman tumbled 6.4 percent after reaching its ex-dividend date.
* The index fell 1.6 percent to 1,837 points.
* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,005 points.
* The index gained 0.7 percent to 5,164 points.
* The index eased 0.01 percent to 6,776 points.
* The index ticked up 0.01 percent to 7,178 points.
* The index climbed 0.4 percent to 8,607 points.
The index fell 1.6 percent to 6,073 points.
* The index declined 0.1 percent to 1,086 points.