DUBAI, March 12 (Reuters) - Stock markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi may come under pressure on Thursday as some of the largest listed banks in the United Arab Emirates go ex-dividend, while Saudi Arabia is set to test a major technical barrier.
Shares in Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest bank by assets, no longer carry the 0.35 dirham dividend for 2014. Its smaller competitor Commercial Bank of Dubai has also gone past the registration date for a 0.20 dirham payout. Both stocks have limited liquidity and their movements can be choppy.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, the fourth-largest lender by assets in the UAE, will trade without a 0.40 dirham dividend attached and United Arab Bank has lost a 0.08 dirham payout.
Trading activity on the UAE markets has been subdued for the last few weeks as investors are cautious about opening new positions, partly because of volatile oil prices.
Saudi Arabia's main index edged up 0.5 percent on Wednesday and closed exactly on its 200-day average of 9,662 points, a strong technical resistance level.
However, King Salman's decision to relieve Shuwaish al-Duwaihi of his post as minister of housing may support property-related stocks in the kingdom.
Although the king has yet to name a full-time replacement for him and the policy implications are unclear, the move may signal a fresh push to speed up the state's housing construction programme. The government has earmarked tens of billions of dollars for the scheme but it has progressed slowly, partly because of red tape and difficulty obtaining land.
On global markets, a surprise interest rate cut by South Korea's central bank on Thursday helped lift Asian stocks from seven-week lows, while Brent oil climbed back to $58 per barrel as as speculators covered their positions ahead of the April contract's expiry. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Torchia)