Petrochemical shares weigh on Saudi after oil tumbled 4%
Petrochemical shares were the main drag on Saudi Arabia's equity index after oil prices fell 4 percent at the end of last week, while Qatar's main index regained some ground.
Riyadh's main index fell 0.6 percent to 5,913 points in low volumes, hitting a fresh 7-month low. Bellwether petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries declined 2.4 percent.
The retail segment was also weak, with one of the largest electronics stores, Jarir Marketing, dropping 2.0 percent.
Dubai's main index edged down 0.6 percent with losers outnumbering gainers 13-to-7. Amusement park builder Dubai Parks and Resorts, which is due to open its theme parks next month, lost 2.4 percent and Emaar Properties edged down 0.7 percent.
Profit-taking on last week's top performing shares weighed on Abu Dhabi's index, which slipped 0.4 percent. Abu Dhabi National Energy lost 3.7 percent.
Egypt's main index edged down 0.1 percent, with a little over half of the traded shares declining. Orascom Telecom , a stock favoured by local traders, dropped 1.9 percent in active trade.
But some real estate companies gained, as investors favoured property-related companies because of their inflation-hedge appeal after the central bank unexpectedly left key interest rates unchanged at a monetary policy meeting on Thursday.
Sixth of October Development and Investment rose 2.0 percent and Talaat Mostafa Group added 0.6 percent.
But Qatar's index, which was down 1.2 percent in a volatile week, added 0.2 percent.
Some stocks, which are now members of the FTSE secondary emerging market index, climbed, with Ezdan Holding Group adding 1.1 percent.
Egypt said it will consider auctioning its fourth-generation (4G) licences on the international market after all three of the country's existing mobile phone operators turned down an offer to acquire them on Thursday.
Telecom Egypt, which had jumped 2.2 percent on Thursday because it was the only operator which had acquired the licence last month, retreated 1.4 percent on Sunday.
The rejections could leave the way open for regional carriers Zain, and Saudi Telecom Co (STC), which had both expressed an interest in acquiring Egyptian 4G licences if the established companies bowed out.
Local media Arabiya reported on Sunday, citing company sources, that Zain Kuwait is still interested in buying the licence and will be visitng Cairo in the near future to take the discussion further. Shares in Zain ended flat.
On Sunday Saudi Arabia's telecom sector outperformed the market with STC adding 0.4 percent and Zain KSA, a subsidiary of Zain Kuwait, jumping 9.3 percent, its daily limit.
"STC is the only Saudi company that has the financial bandwidth to purchase the 4G licence especially if the reported $1.8 billion stake sale in Malaysian carrier Maxis goes through," said Iyad Ghulam, senior anlayst at Riyadh's NCB Capital.
Ghulam believes that although Zain Kuwait's interst in Egypt's 4G licence may have had some positive impact on its Saudi unit's price surge, investors may have turned their focus to the more pressing topic of the transmitter tower sale.
STC and its chief competitor Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) signed an agreement at the end of July to jointly explore options for their network of transmitter towers. The deal is set to expire on Oct. 31.
"If the tower company is set up and if Zain KSA takes part by selling its towers, then it may be able to lessen its debt burden," Ghulam added.