UPDATE 7: Air Arabia heads Dubai losers; Abu Dhabi down on Wednesday.
Banks were the main drag as Saudi Arabia's index TASI ended lower for a third session in four, as a fall in bank profits and a fifth straight decline in money supply growth weighed on sentiment for the sector. SABB dropped 1 percent, Arab Bank lost 1.5 percent and Al Rajhi Bank slipped 0.6 percent.
"Saudi equities ticked down today on profit-booking after the market scaled its recent high levels," said Mohammed Ishaq Ali, a Fund Manager at Al Rajhi Capital.
"The slowdown of money supply (M3) growth and fall in banking sector profit also reflected on market sentiments. In addition, the traders closed their positions to end the quarter also attributed to this technical correction."
The index slipped 0.2 percent to 6,801 points, easing from Tuesday's 17-month high.
Air Arabia dropped after going ex-dividend and most other Dubai stocks struggled to advance as investors booked profits from a March index DFM surged, tracking losses on other Gulf Arab bourses. Air Arabia dropped 9.3 percent, Drake & Scull lost 2 percent and Shuaa Capital shed 1.4 percent. The latter rose 8.9 percent on Tuesday after saying it was considering a joint venture for its asset management business.
"The market needs to take a breather to build stronger supports and give investors confidence that it can hold around these levels," said Ayman el-Saheb, Darahem Financial Brokerage director of operations.
"The longer it takes for the market to consolidate the more sceptical investors will become and so volatility will increase."
The index slipped 0.4 percent to 1,843 points.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark ADI fell for a second day as volumes slumped to a week-low, with a Dubai World liquidity surge proving fleeting as institutional investors continue to sit out UAE markets.
On Thursday, Dubai World unveiled long-awaited debt restructuring offer, sparking a trading spike on the Dubai and Abu Dhabi bourses.
Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) fell 1.2 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 1.4 percent.
The index slipped 0.6 percent to 2,908 points.
"It's the end of the quarter, so investors are closing positions and most Gulf markets are down," said Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.
Industries Qatar hit a 15-week intraday high, but Doha's index QSI ended lower as investors await dividend payouts.
IQ rose 1.4 percent, having hit its highest level since Dec 15 intraday as oil prices head towards $83 a barrel. Oil and petrochemical prices are closely correlated, while higher crude prices also indicate likely rising global economic activity and with it demand for petrochemical and industrial products.
Qatar National Bank added 0.7 percent.
"Market volumes are still low," said Hesham Kalla, investment manager at Doha Bank.
"Seasonally we see this occurrence as the market ramps up prior to dividend season in anticipation of generous payouts by the local companies."
Merger targets Barwa Real Estate and Qatar Real Estate (Alaqaria) fell more than 5 percent after each go ex-dividend.
The index slipped 0.04 percent to 7,462 points.
Oman's index MSI ended lower for a third day, slipping to a week-low as investors close positions at the quarter-end.
Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel) dropped 0.9 percent and Renaissance Services slid 1.1 percent.
"Today is the last day of the quarter so there was closing of positions - institutions have not contributed on the buy side for the last few days for that reason," says Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.
"I believe the market will rebound tomorrow."
Galfar Engineering fell 3 percent, declining for a second day in three since going ex-dividend.
The index fell 0.2 percent to 6,697 points, its lowest finish since March 21.
Global Investment House declined after the Kuwait bourse said the stock will be suspended from Thursday pending arbitration results with two local companies over about $50.2m. The bourse said trading in Global and one of the two companies, Al Madina for Finance & Investment Co, will be stopped until it is informed of arbitration verdicts.
The other company, Kuwait City Holding Co, is not listed.
Global fell 1.9 percent and Al Madina lost 3 percent.
Kuwait's index KWSE dropped 1.1 percent to 7,457 points. (Reuters)