Saudi Arabia's stock market fell on Monday as most of its blue-chip bank shares slid, while Dubai snapped an eight-day winning streak, pulled down by its real estate stocks.
Saudi Arabia's index decreased 0.9 percent with Al Rajhi Bank falling 0.6 percent and Riyad BankE losing 3.1 percent.
The Saudi market is consolidating after a strong rally last month due to an increase in foreign fund flows ahead of the market's inclusion in key emerging market benchmarks later this year. The index is up nearly 8 percent year to date.
Arqaam Capital trimmed its Saudi exposure to 30 percent by taking profits on National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank after having increased its weight in mid-December.
The brokerage trimmed its exposure in the banks by 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent each, saying "valuations are now becoming full in absence of further rate cuts in the United States".
Foreign investors, who have been net buyers in all weeks this year, continued their buying spree. Foreigners bought a net 442.8 million riyals of stocks last week, according to weekly data from the Saudi exchange.
Saudi Vitrified Clay Pipe Co lost 1.9 percent after its full-year net profit plunged to 4.4 million riyals compared to 28.9 million riyals a year ago, as demand for pipes slowed and costs rose.
Arriyadh Development Co fell 2.5 percent after posting a more 8 percent drop in its full-year profit in the absence of land sales and drop in its operating sector revenue.
The Dubai index slid 0.3 percent, with DAMAC Properties losing 4.2 percent and Emaar Malls losing 2.2 percent.
Dubai snapped its longest stretch of gains since January 2018, mainly triggered by strong fourth-quarter earnings from real estate firms.
Property firms have led the recent rally after displaying signs of recovery in their fourth-quarter results and more construction contracts. However they remained vulnerable to falling property prices.
The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.5 percent with the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank decreasing 0.9 percent.
But Qatar's index added 0.4 percent, with heavyweights Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank gaining 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.
The index slipped into negative territory in February, but has been rebounding ahead of companies splitting their stocks.
Qatari companies are set to split their shares from one to 10 under a regulatory requirement, meaning post-split shares would be offered at one-tenth of their current value. This could attract retail investors in particular to buy more affordable stocks and increase liquidity in the index.
Egypt's index was down 0.1 percent as Commercial International Bank Egypt fell 0.7 percent.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))