Oman's shares slump to new two-year low on muted trade; Kuwait ends 0.1% lower
Egyptian shares declined as the unprecented trial of former President Hosni Mubarak added to the country's political uncertainties, but trade is slow as most traders remained transfixed in front of television screens.
Mubarak is the first Arab ruler to appear in court since uprisings swept the region, and analysts say it is still unclear if the trial will lead to reconciliation or drag on and fuel more recrimination.
"For those of us in markets, uncertainty is always an excuse to sell, whether it's justifiable or not," said Akram Annous, MENA strategist at Al Mal Capital in Dubai.
"Markets want a smooth trial and an uncontroversial outcome, and when that looks more likely they start to discount it, but until then they are likely to be on edge as this drama unfolds," Annous said.
The benchmark index slid 0.9 percent to its lowest level since May 8. The index has fallen by 6.5 percent since July 17, mainly on concerns over political uncertainty.
"People psychologically want to stay away from the market until things are clear," said Mohamed Radwan of Pharos Securities.
NSGB , which is expected to release second quarter results soon, slipped 1.3 percent.
Mobinil dropped 2.1 percent. One of the lawyers at Mubarak's trial called for a legal representative from Egypt's three main telecoms firms to come to court to talk about the communication cut during the uprising.
Analysts said Egyptian shares are also under pressure after Asian stocks fell by about 2 percent on increasing fears that Washington's efforts to cut spending will slow growth at a time when global factory output is already stagnating.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark extended losses for a second ay as investor sentiment was weighed by concerns of slowing global economic growth.
World stocks fell towards five-month lows on Wednesday as worries grew that fiscal cutbacks and stagnating output would prolong a global economic slowdown and aggravate Europe's debt crisis.
"Volumes are low in Saudi, but the main reason for the pressure in the market is the perception that the economic growth globally will suffer," said Youssef Kassantini, a Saudi-based financial analyst.
The kingdom's index is likely to continue in the downtrend for the next two week but stay relatively range-bound, he added.
The benchmark slipped 0.3 percent to 6,424 points, stretching its 2011 losses to 3 percent.
Shares fell across the board, with telecom operator Zain Saudi leads decliners by turnover, slipping 0.8 percent.
Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) declined 0.2 percent, dragging the sector's index down by 0.5 percent.
UAE's Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) helped lift the emirate's index to a higher close, a day after it reported a swing to profits in the second quarter due to a stake sale.
ADCB shares rose 0.3 percent, taking its year-to-date gains to 49 percent. The lender booked a $357m gain from the sale of its quarter-percent stake in Malaysia's RHB Capital and reported a net profit of AED1.34bn ($364.9m).
Etisalat rises for a second session, up 1 percent, after saying on Monday its Indian mobile phone joint venture partner withdrew a petition filed against the company before India's Company Law Board.
The Abu Dhabi index climbed 0.2 percent to 2,650 points, up for a third day.
Meanwhile, losers outnumbered gainers in Dubai 18 to two. The index slipped 0.6 percent to 1,527 points.
Telecoms operator du shed 0.3 percent despite posting estimate-beating quarterly net profit of AED207.2m.
"We need to see foreign buying coming through, which is fragile right now," said Sachin Mohindra, senior vice-president, portfolio manager, Invest AD.
"High net worth individuals are very sensitive to the international developments. For strength in our markets, we need to see continued forward buying."
Elsewhere, Qatar's benchmark eased 0.4 percent to 8,389 points.
Six of the 10 largest stocks fell including Qatar National Bank which was down 0.6 percent, Industries Qatar which was off 0.8 percent and Qatar Telecommunications which trailed 0.7 percent.
Oman's shares slumped to a new two-year low on muted trade, as lingering concerns on the state of global economic demand weighed.
The benchmark fell 0.9 percent to 5,758 points, its lowest close since July 2009.
Heavyweight Bank Muscat shed 0.7 percent, slipping to a two-month low.
"Poor liquidity compounds the over reliance to international markets and gets blown put of proportion," said Sachin Mohindra, senior vice-president, portfolio manager at Invest AD.
"Going forward, investors will continue to be concerned about what's going to happen in international markets. That's going to drive the sentiment but will have a disproportionate effect," Mohindra added.
Bluechips Oman Telecommunications Co declines 0.2 percent and Renaissance Services dipped 1.4 percent. Galfar Engineering dropped 2.2 percent.
The trio have yet to post quarterly earnings, expected during the next week.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's benchmark ended 0.1 percent lower at 6,067 points, taking its year-to-date losses to 12.8 percent.
Investors are waiting for the banking sector to benefit once the government moves ahead with a $104.2bn development plan aimed to reduce the state's dependency on oil.
"Banks are not marking any loan growth, valuations are not attractive," said Mohindra. "If we see growth return, we'll see Kuwait get more attractive."