DUBAI- Major Middle East stock markets moved largely sideways on Tuesday with little positive news to spur buying, although GFH Financial continued surging in Dubai after disclosing details of its business strategy.
In contrast to recent days, Saudi Arabia's index spent almost the entire day higher, closing up 0.3 percent - a sign that the impact of the kingdom's sweeping anti-corruption purge, which has alarmed investors, might be easing.
Since the beginning of last week, the market had traded lower for most of the day before rebounding toward the close as state-linked funds bought shares, apparently as part of a deliberate market-support operation designed to prevent panic.
Two major stocks linked to tycoons detained in the anti-graft crackdown - Kingdom Holding and Al Tayyar Travel - barely moved as trading volumes in them shrank, which suggested investors were no longer dumping the stocks out of concern over the companies' viability.
In Dubai, the index rose 0.3 percent as the most heavily traded stock, GFH Financial , added 4.6 percent.
On Monday GFH had climbed 6.3 percent after the company said it had swung to a third-quarter profit from a year-earlier loss, exited real estate portfolios in Bahrain and the United States, would invest in the education sector, and planned to acquire a financial institution in the Gulf.
Dubai Investments , an affiliate of Dubai's sovereign wealth fund, gained 4.2 percent in unusually heavy trade.
Healthcare and education investment firm Amanat Holdings
fell 2.4 percent after Qatar First Bank said one of its units had sold its stake in Amanat for 150 million dirhams ($40.8 million).
Union Properties closed flat after posting a third-quarter loss of 45 million dirhams ($12.3 million) versus a year-earlier profit of 32.3 million dirhams, mainly blaming the managed wind-down of Thermo LLC, a subsidiary that did contracting work.
Qatar's index edged up 0.2 percent but real estate firm Ezdan Holding fell 2.3 percent after Standard & Poor's cut its credit rating by two notches to BB, in junk territory, with a negative outlook.
The company has been hit by a downturn in Qatar's property market that has been worsened by sanctions imposed on Qatar by other Arab states. The stock has tumbled 48 percent this year.
Egypt's index barely moved. Dice Sport , which rarely trades, shot up 230 percent to 23.60 Egyptian pounds after Qalaa Holdings said it had sold its indirect stake in Dice through a public and private offer in the exchange's secondary market for about 300 million Egyptian pounds ($17 million).
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 6,979 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 3,489 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 4,366 points.
* The index gained 0.2 percent to 7,874 points.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 14,133 points.
* The index edged down 0.01 percent to 6,250 points.
* The index dropped 0.2 percent to 1,260 points.
* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 5,115 points.
(By Andrew Torchia, editing by Mark Heinrich) ((email@example.com)(+9715 6681 7277)(Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))