MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt gains in cautious trade as Mursi trial begins; Gulf muted
DUBAI Nov 4 (Reuters) - Egypt's bourse gained in cautious trading on Monday as ousted President Mohamed Mursi's trial began, while most Gulf markets edged up with investors hungry for fresh catalysts after strong early-year rallies.
Mursi's trial on charges of inciting violence was adjourned to January 8 on Monday after he interrupted the session repeatedly. His now-banned Muslim Brotherhood movement has said it would continue staging street protests to pressure the army to reinstate Mursi.
Cairo's benchmark index climbed 0.6 percent, trading sideways since it hit a near three-year high last week.
"People are being cautious to avoid (losses due to) any tensions," said Islam Batrawy, a Cairo-based trader. "The market volumes are improving and there can be a more sustained upward trend going forward but we need to see what might develop from the court case."
Trading was also muted ahead of a holiday. Egypt's exchange will be closed on Tuesday for a one-day holiday for the Islamic New Year. Oman and Kuwait's bourses will also be shut.
In Saudi Arabia, the benchmark ticked up 0.2 percent in dull trading.
Investors were cautious as the government began a crackdown on illegal immigrant after amnesty expiration.
"When we have a better idea of what the impact is on companies, investors will select sectors accordingly," said Asim Bukhtiar, head of research at Riyad Capital. "Right now, construction companies are complaining. If labour costs go up, you'll see inflationary impact."
In Oman, the bourse rose 0.4 percent. Boosted by quarterly earnings, the market hit a two-month high.
"Earnings have been mostly in line and some above our expectations," said Kanaga Sundar, Gulf Baader Capital Markets head of research. "Dividend buyers should start positioning in the coming weeks. In the medium-term, the market should do well."
The services sector will be the main draw for dividend-seeking investors, while earnings growth expectations in the industrial sector and attractive bank valuations may support the market until the year-end, he added.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's bourse slipped 0.4 percent, its third decline in the last five sessions since it hit a five-year peak.
The market is up 79.4 percent year-to-date. Investors have already priced in quarterly earnings and are positioned for Dubai to succeed in its bid to host World Expo 2020, analysts say.
They see little near-term upside in prices should Dubai be chosen to stage the exhibition. But if its bid fails there could be a sharp sell-off. The winner will be announced on Nov. 27.
The next possible catalyst for the market will be dividends and fourth-quarter earnings early next year.
Abu Dhabi's measure closed flat.
Elsewhere, Qatar's bourse climbed 0.5 percent and Kuwait's index added 0.3 percent.
* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 6,222 points.
* The index advanced 0.2 percent to 8,060 points.
* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 2,912 points.
* The index was flat at 3,845 points.
* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 9,841 points.
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 7,896 points.
* The index rose 0.4 percent to 6,712 points.