Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments tumbled on Sunday after setting the date for a shareholder meeting to discuss delisting the firm.
Middle East markets fell as an end-of-week surge in oil prices failed to outweigh gloom over declines in world equities following fresh doubts about a global economic recovery. The Saudi benchmark lost 0.55 percent to close at 6,318 points.
Aabar lost 7.1 percent. The world's only listed sovereign wealth fund has called a July 26 shareholder meeting to debate plans to convert into a joint stock company.
"The main concern regarding Aabar is how minority shareholders will get treated — there isn't a set road map on how companies delist from the exchange and that's why investors are cautious," said Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading.
Kuwait was the biggest regional loser, dipping 0.8 percent as market heavyweight Zain fell 1.8 percent, slipping for a second session since hitting a four-week closing high on Wednesday. On Sunday, a Kuwait newspaper reported Zain was in talks to sell a majority stake to Abu Dhabi's Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat).
"Zain had been going up for the past few days on talk it was looking to sell a stake, but Kuwait sentiment is negative today and so Zain is seeing some selling pressure come in," said Shahid Hameed, Global Investment House head of asset management for the Gulf region.
“Everything is down and volumes are very thin. A lot of investment companies are facing a very challenging time and this spooks the market from time to time, usually when there's a negative global backdrop."
Trading at Saudi bourse was negative throughout day. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) lost 34.73 points, down 0.55 percent, to close at 6318.52 points.
Sector activity was negative with 10 out of 15 sectors closing with losses ranging from 0.34 percent by the Transport sector to 1.16 percent by the Petrochemical Industries sector. The gains ranged from 0.1 percent by the Building & Construction to 2.17 percent by the Insurance Sector.
The overall market breadth for the day remained was also negative with 56 advancers against 70 decliners giving it an AD ratio of 0.8, the Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its daily market commentary.
Other Middle East markets fell, tracking end-of-week declines on global bourses in the absence of local catalysts, although a Friday surge in oil prices helped limit regional losses.
"Trading is very lackluster and seems quite random — there are no real themes to what is going on," said a Riyadh-based analyst who asked not to be identified. "It's a day traders' market, with a lot of uncertainty about the global economy, which is weighing heavily on local sentiment."
Dubai builder Arabtec fell 0.5 percent, taking its losses to 31 percent this year, with investors little moved by comments from the builder's chief financial officer that it expects to receive payment in cash from indebted Dubai World unit Nakheel soon. "Comments like these will be largely ignored," added Wakeman. "Until all banks say they have signed up for Dubai World's debt restructuring and local contractors say they have been paid, we won't see any significant movement."
Dubai World is restructuring about $23.5 billion of debts.
Egypt's index fell 0.3 percent in thin trade as state-owned banks dumped positions ahead of the end of the fiscal year on June 30, said Amr Shamel of Pharos Securities.
"There is no direction with this volume. You cannot decide where the market is going," he said. "There is no interest. No institutional interest, no retail interest."
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