MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf weakens ahead of likely U.S. rate hike, Saudi budget

Stock markets in the Gulf pulled back on Tuesday as investors turned their attention to an expected U.S. interest rate hike

  
Investors speak in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014.

Investors speak in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014.

REUTERS/Stringer
DUBAI, Dec 13 (Reuters) - 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.

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 1.2 percent to 3,614 points.

Mobile phone operator du was the worst performer, dropping 2.8 percent. Real estate giant Emaar Properties lost 1.7 percent.

But GFH Financial Group added 1.1 percent 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 fell 1.2 percent with blue chip Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank down 2.1 percent.

In Riyadh, the general market index slid 0.7 percent, heading for a second straight session of losses as investors readjusted their portfolios in anticipation of the 2017 budget announcement, expected late this month.

Jassim Aljubran, technical analyst at Aljazira Capital, said profit-taking at current levels was not surprising since the market had soared about 26 percent so far this quarter.

Petrochemical shares remained weak with all 14 listed producers retreating. Saudi Kayan Petrochemical was down 1.7 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. Shares in Mouwasat were unchanged.

(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Tom Heneghan) ((celine.aswad@thomsonreuters.com)(+9715 6224 7653))






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