DUBAI: Trading on bourses in the United Arab Emirates slumped on Sunday as the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan exacerbated a summer lull, while Kuwait's market snapped a three-day decline after the country's emir approved a new cabinet.
Abu Dhabi volumes dropped to their lowest in more than two years, but the index added 0.2 percent.
Dubai's index slipped 1.3 percent, down for a second session since Wednesday's 10-week high. Only 27 million shares changed hands, the lowest total since May 27.
Trading on Gulf bourses declines over summer as investors escape the searing summer heat, while market activity also drops during Ramadan, which has compounded the seasonal slump. The Muslim holy month of fasting started on Thursday evening.
In Dubai, Emaar Properties gave back early-session gains, ending 0.9 percent lower. Builder Arabtec and Dubai Financial Market each lost 1.3 percent.
"We saw subdued trading in the UAE today, but we believe the atmosphere will become slightly more active over the coming days as second-quarter earnings are released," said Sleiman Aboulhosn, assistant fund manager at Al Masah Capital.
"The seasonality factor will continue to put pressure on stock market activity and volatility, so we don't expect much action over the next couple of weeks."
Among regional gainers, Saudi Arabia's bourse and Kuwait's measure both rose 0.5 percent.
In Saudi, petrochemical stocks reversed early-session losses, boosting the index, while oil prices also supported.
"Investors have been selling petchems in anticipation of bad Q2 numbers, but they're oversold at these levels," said Rakan Himadeh, equity portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital.
"Plus, with oil prices that have rebounded sharply from the lows, there's more visibility on petrochemical pricing going into the second half of 2012."
Kuwait investors gave a cautious welcome to the emir's appointment of a new cabinet, which ushered back many of the old faces following the resignation of the last one in June in a standoff with parliament. New elections are expected to be held after Ramadan.
The appointment of a new cabinet may end a political deadlock that has weighed heavy on stocks - the main index has fallen 10 percent since early May's one-year high - and which many investors say has delayed economic development.
Elsewhere, Qatar Meat and Livestock jumped 7.8 percent after the company said it expected livestock revenues to rise by 175 percent due to an expected rise in consumption.
Oman's index fell 0.2 percent to its lowest close since Nov. 30.