March 25 (Reuters) - Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s stock markets retreated on Thursday, dragged down by firms that traded ex-dividend, while other major Gulf markets were steady in early trade.
In Dubai, the main share index declined 1%, with Dubai Islamic Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) largest sharia-compliant lender, losing 4% as the stock traded ex-dividend.
Elsewhere, Dubai Investments was down 1.2%
The Abu Dhabi index dropped 1.1%, hit by a 4.4% fall in telecoms firm Etisalat after the stock went ex-dividend.
UAE bourses are facing a fresh challenge as local firms increasingly seek fast-track listings in New York through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
The UAE recently introduced a raft of reforms, such as a cut in trading fees, aimed at making its equity markets more attractive.
But such measures may not be enough. SPAC mergers have become more attractive to Gulf companies which find traditional IPOs more complicated and expensive, yet uncertain to succeed amid lacklustre investor appetite.
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index rose 0.2%, with Samba Financial Group gaining 1%, and Riyad Bank rising 0.8%.
In Qatar, the benchmark index edged up 0.1%, helped by a 0.8% increase in petrochemicals maker Industries Qatar .
The index’s gains were capped by losses at Mesaieed Petrochemical, which traded ex-dividend. (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru. Editing by Mark Potter)