DUBAI Aug 26 Regional markets retreated in a
much-awaited profit-taking move but it was worsened by rising
geo-political uncertainty after last week's reported chemical
weapons attack in Syria.
U.N. inspectors on Monday travelled to a rebel-held suburb
of the Syrian capital where they met and collected samples from
victims of the attack, a Syrian doctor told Reuters. The visit
follows calls from Western powers for military action to punish
what may be the world's worst chemical attack in 25 years.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar's bourses corrected sharply.
The Saudi kingdom's benchmark fell 0.9 percent to
8,055 points, its biggest one-day drop since June 16 - the
previous instance of heightened political tension around Syria
on reports of the military's use of chemical weapons.
"There are lots of talks on Syria, which are bringing
uncertainty and that's not good for the market," said Hesham
Tuffaha, fund manager at a Riyadh-based lender.
"If talks of action against Syria escalate, it will further
impact Saudi Arabia."
Tuffaha said the market rallied too sharply in recent weeks
and is likely to pull back to as much as 7,900 levels before
bouncing back as fundamentals will once again become attractive.
Selling was spread out across sectors, trimming benchmark
gains to 18.4 percent for 2013.
Elsewhere, Qatar's measure lost 1.8 percent,
extending declines since Thursday's near-five-year high.
All firms on the 20-stock index fell with Qatar Gas
Transport suffering the most, dropping 4.1 percent.
In the United Arab Emirates, markets were more resilient as
its safe haven status and a recovery in the real estate sector
underpinned an optimistic outlook.
Small-caps lead trading on Dubai's bourse as retail traders
shifted positions from other similar stocks but the index
slipped 0.2 percent, trimming 2013 gains to 69.3
Drake and Scull rose 2.5 percent, the most actively
traded stock. National Central Cooling (Tabreed)
surged 14.8 percent.
"There's high retail activity across the region -
institutional investors have participated in selective choices
because they look for value rather than momentum," said Marwan
Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.
Despite the softness in many markets and the fact they have
already risen sharply this year, there is no clear sign that UAE
markets are starting extended pull-backs.
"Second-quarter earnings were impressive and helped people
maintain the attitude of recovery going into 2014," said
Abu Dhabi's benchmark declined 0.7 percent, easing
off a near five-year high.
Elsewhere, Cairo's main benchmark dipped 0.4
percent, snapping a four-session gain and a recovery driven by
easing in political violence.
Selling pressure was limited on the bourse; 20 stocks out of
30 declined, while eight gained. Foreign investors were net
sellers, while locals were buyers.
Kuwait's measure lost 0.9 percent, while Oman's
index was little moved.
* The index retreated 0.9 percent to 8,054 points.
* The index fell 1.8 percent to 9,899 points.
* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,742 points.
* The index declined 0.7 percent to 3,933 points.
* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 5,449 points.
* The index retreated 0.9 percent to 8,000 points.
* The index ticked up 0.05 percent to 6,919 points.
* The index was flat at 1,201 points.