Markets in United Arab Emirates were mixed on Monday with Dubai's measure halting a three-session drop while most other Gulf shares retreated and Egypt's measure slipped off a four-year high.
Dubai's index gained 0.5 per cent after a choppy session as profit-taking proved short-term but technicals remain weak.
It failed to make a clear break above 3,807 points, the 50 per cent retracement of its 2008 peak after touching an intra-day high of 3,855 on Jan. 29.
"The market is clearly facing selling from big hands and it will continue for a while because distribution generally lasts a full quarter," said Firas Al Zghaibi, financial markets strategist at brokerage firm MENA Corp.
Market volumes surged in January to the highest level since September, but the index gains slowed down - a sign that big investors were selling to retail traders.
"Volatility is expected this month - the market is overbought on weekly and monthly basis, which makes it vulnerable to correction and signals that the market will become riskier," Al Zghaibi said.
"The uptrend, however, may continue - there is still momentum in stocks. Most likely, the index will search for a top between 4,100 - 4,400," he added.
Contractor Arabtec rose 2.3 per cent to its highest since September 2008 and extending gains since it won a $6.1 billion contract awarded by Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar.
Abu Dhabi's index slipped 0.3 per cent from Sunday's five-year peak. Banks led losses with National Bank of Abu Dhabi down 3.5 per cent.
Egypt's benchmark index slipped 0.4 per cent, easing off Sunday's four-year high, as investors booked profits in mid- and small-cap stocks.
Egyptian Resorts dropped 5.2 per cent and Palm Hill Developments Company fell 2.2 per cent on Monday.
Investors remain positive on the market despite uncertainty over a cabinet reshuffle.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has said the reshuffle will include the defence ministry, an Egyptian newspaper said on Saturday, in the clearest sign yet that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi plans to stand for president.
People are waiting for a clear announcement from Sisi for his presidency bid.
"At the moment, the market is mainly retail-driven," said Islam Batrawy, Cairo-based head of MENA equity sales at NBK Capital. "There is a possibility the market could see a minor correction, but the main underlying catalyst remains the presidential election."
In Doha, Qatar National Bank, the region's largest lender by market value, fell 2.5 per cent after going ex-dividend on a 70 per cent cash dividend.
The bank dragged down the measure which slipped 0.3 per cent to its lowest since Jan. 20.
Bourses in Saudi Arabia's and Kuwait also dipped 0.3 per cent each.
DUBAI: The index gained 0.5 per cent to 3,773 points.
ABU DHABI: The index declined 0.3 per cent to 4,678 points.
EGYPT: The index retreated 0.4 per cent to 7,409 points.
SAUDI ARABIA: The index slipped 0.3 per cent to 8,807 points.
QATAR: The index slipped 0.3 per cent to 11,138 points.
OMAN: The index retreated 0.3 per cent to 7,073 points.
KUWAIT: The index declined 0.3 per cent to 7,787 points.
BAHRAIN: The index gained 0.2 per cent to 1,294 points. (Editing by Olzhas Auyezov)
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