MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mkts mostly lower on caution ahead of holidays; Egypt up

DUBAI Thu Oct 3, 2013 10:04am EDT

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DUBAI Oct 3 (Reuters) - Most Gulf bourses retreated on Thursday in cautious investor sentiment ahead of an extended public holiday in mid-October, while strong retail activity lifted Egypt's bourse.

Kuwait's index led Gulf declines, losing 1.2 percent to 7,647 points, slumping to its lowest level since Sept. 12.

Bluechips faltered from their recent strong footing - the sub-index Kuwait 15 dropped 0.6 percent. Bourse trading volumes however fell to a one-month low.

Gulf markets will close during the week of Oct. 13 for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the Hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

"There are few retail clients in the market - some are afraid of what might happen during the Eid holiday," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

The deadline for Umited States raising its debt ceiling is on Oct. 17, which will fall during the break.

The market is likely to remain volatile next week, Darwish added.

Expectations of improved corporate results for the third quarter will conflict with uncertainty over the global economic backdrop.

The dollar hovered at an eight-month low on Thursday as the U.S. government shutdown dragged on, though stocks drew comfort from the view that major central banks may now have to keep monetary policy super-loose for longer.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's measure retreated 0.2 percent, easing off a five-year high. Abu Dhabi's index dipped 0.1 percent.

Dubai Financial Market, the Gulf's only listed bourse dropped 5.6 percent. It surged 15 percent to a four-year high on Wednesday on a Reuters report that banks had been hired to advise on a possible merger with the Abu Dhabi exchange.

Shares in Nasdaq Dubai-listed interiors contractor Depa rose 4.4 - the stock has been volatile in recent sessions and witnessed increased trading activity on talks that contractor Arabtec may be looking to increase its stake in Depa.

Last November, Arabtec's board approved the purchase of 149.6 million shares in the interiors firm. Arabtec's shares rose 1.1 percent.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia's bourse was flat, trading sideways in recent sessions as investor expectations on third-quarter earnings are tempered.

Qatar's index rose 0.7 percent, up for a fourth in last five sessions since it slumped to a two-week low. Recent selling pressure was due to expectations that state-run energy firm Qatar Petroleum will list its unit.

QP has picked two banks to help arrange the IPO, an issue which could be worth around 3.2 billion riyals ($880 million), banking sources told Reuters. The IPO may launch by the end of this year.

In Egypt, Cairo's benchmark index added 0.6 percent, its highest close since Feb. 13.

Textile sector stocks surged with Unirab Polavara Spinning and Weaving Co rallying 9.9 percent.

Political turmoil in the country has lessened in recent days. Egypt has a long weekend, with the bourse closed on Sunday for a public holiday.

"The activity is high from retail investors ahead of the long weekend," said Islam Batrawy, deputy director of sales and trading at Egypt's Naeem Brokerage. "People are expecting minimal demonstrations because of strict curfews."

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

KUWAIT

* The index dropped 1.2 percent to 7,625 points.

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,823 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index declined 0.1 percent to 3,858 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index ticked up 0.04 percent to 8,018 points.

QATAR

* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 9,761 points.

EGYPT

* The index gained 0.6 percent to 5,762 points.

OMAN

* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 6,647 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index declined 0.1 percent to 1,194 points.

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