DUBAI, Jan 8 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates stock markets rose in early trade on Sunday, boosted by local retail investors' buying stocks priced below 1 dirham, while most other Gulf bourses moved little.
Dubai's index climbed 1.3 percent to 3,675 points in the first 90 minutes, testing technical resistance at the mid-December peak of 3,659 points. Nine of the 10 most heavily traded stocks rose and six of them were priced below 1 dirham.
Two of them were insurance firms, with Dubai Islamic Insurance jumping 8.3 percent and Islamic Arab Insurance adding 6.5 percent. For the past couple of weeks, some traders have been speculating there may be mergers in the insurance industry following last year's news of a big Abu Dhabi banking merger.
Abu Dhabi's index climbed 0.6 percent in a broad-based rise, with Abu Dhabi National Bank gaining 2.3 percent.
Elsewhere, local investors were less positive. Qatar's index edged down 0.1 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical , the most heavily traded stock, slipped 1.8 percent.
Gulf Warehousing fell 1.2 percent despite recommending an annual cash dividend of 1.60 riyals per share, up slightly from 1.50 riyals in the previous year. It said net profit climbed 11 percent last year.
Saudi Arabia's index edged up 0.2 percent with much activity again focusing on lower-priced, second-tier stocks favoured by local retail investors rather than institutions.
However, builder Abdullah Abdul Mohsin al-Khodari and Sons rose 3.1 percent after saying it had secured a 69 million riyal ($18.4 million) contract from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Mark Potter)