* Saudi slips for second straight day
* Petrochemical, retail sectors are main drags
* Egypt slips on weaker pound as local traders sell
* Dubai down on profit-taking but trading volume robust
* Qatar bucks trend with QNB top performer
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Dec 13 Stock markets in the Gulf pulled
back on Tuesday as investors turned their attention to an
expected U.S. interest rate hike on Wednesday and the upcoming
Saudi Arabian state budget for 2017.
In Riyadh, the index declined for a second straight
session, falling 0.8 percent. Trading volume shrank by roughly
half from Monday's very large amount.
Investors have been readjusting their portfolios in
anticipation of the 2017 budget announcement, which is expected
late this month.
Bankers and analysts in touch with Saudi economic officials
say the 2016 deficit is likely to have shrunk much more than
originally projected, and this plus higher oil prices should
give the government room to spend a little more on economic
development projects next year.
But more domestic fuel subsidy cuts still look likely in the
2017 budget. Mohammad al Shammasi, chief executive of
Riyadh-based Derayah Financial, said the market's uptrend was
pausing temporarily, though any pullback in the lead-up to the
budget announcement would not be major.
"The government had already made it clear in last year's
budget announcement that there will be further subsidy cuts, but
I don't think the impact will be as negative on sentiment as it
Nevertheless, on Tuesday petrochemical shares remained weak,
with all 14 listed producers retreating. Saudi Kayan
Petrochemical closed 1.7 percent lower.
Retail shares were also hit, with apparel retailer and mall
operator Fawaz Alhokair slumping 5.5 percent.
But Knowledge Economic City rose 1.5 percent in
heavy trade after the company said it had sold land to hospital
operator Mouwasat for a capital gain of 32 million
riyals ($8.5 million), which would be reflected in its fourth-
quarter results. Mouwasat fell 0.2 percent.
In Egypt, the index pulled back 0.5 percent in a
volatile session, with selling pressure escalating in the final
A little over 80 percent of shares in the index declined
with Orascom Telecom, the most heavily traded stock,
falling 2.6 percent after rising by the same percentage on
Foreign investors, who have been buyers of stocks since the
central bank floated the Egyptian pound on Nov. 3, remained net
buyers, bourse data showed.
The Egyptian pound hit an all time low against the
U.S dollar on Monday, trading at 18.50 pounds. A weaker currency
will hurt local traders who have seen their purchasing power
erode, but it may encourage international funds to continue
buying shares at a cheaper exchange rate.
UAE DOWN, QATAR UP
Dubai's main index, which rose on Monday to its
highest level this year and above technical resistance on its
August peak of 3,624 points, pulled back 0.9 percent to 3,625
Trading volume shrunk by roughly a fifth from the previous
session but held well above this year's average, suggesting
foreign investors remain interested in the market.
Mobile phone operator du fell 2.8 percent and real
estate giant Emaar Properties dropped 1.3 percent.
But GFH Financial Group jumped 3.2 percent in heavy
trade after multilateral development bank Arab Petroleum
Investments Corp bought 30 percent of Falcon Cement
Co, Bahrain's largest cement producer, from GFH. The companies
did not disclose a purchase price but GFH has previously valued
Falcon at $120 million.
Abu Dhabi's index closed down 0.2 percent but well
above its session low. Trading volume shrank by roughly
two-thirds from Monday. The main drag came from blue chips with
Union National Bank closing 1.1 percent lower.
Qatar's main index, however, bucked the regional
downtrend to climb 0.7 percent in modest volume.
The index is still down 0.5 percent since the start of the
year but has gained 7.9 percent since Nov. 29. A Reuters survey
of fund managers, published at the end of last month, found more
regional funds prepared to return to Qatar because of attractive
Qatar National Bank, the largest listed stock, was
the top performer on Tuesday, rising 2.4 percent.
* The index fell 0.8 percent to 7,108 points.
* The index lost 0.5 percent to 11,385 points.
* The index fell 0.9 percent to 3,625 points.
* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 4,540 points.
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 10,398 points.
* Kuwait's index rose 0.6 percent to 5,672 points.
* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 1,188 points.
* The index added 0.6 percent to 5,732 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia and Susan Fenton)