DUBAI: Kuwait's bourse dropped to a four-week low on Thursday because of rising political tensions, while other Gulf bourses were mixed in quiet trade ahead of the weekend.
Jittery investors have sold shares in Kuwait since protests on Monday which called for the emir to set a date for upcoming parliamentary elections. Worries about politics weighed on the market on Thursday ahead of a cabinet meeting later in the day.
In some of the strongest remarks by an opposition figure, former lawmaker Musallam al-Barrak appealed directly to Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah during the protests to avoid "autocratic rule". His speech contained extremely rare criticism of the emir, which analysts said might spark a strong reaction from the authorities.
The main stock index lost 0.5 percent on Thursday, closing at its lowest level since Sept. 23.
Volumes were focused in smaller caps, an indication the activity is mainly retail investor-driven. Gulf Investment House fell 3.6 percent, while Gulf Bank slipped 1.2 percent with two block trades accounting for 11 million shares in the stock.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's index climbed 0.7 percent to 1,654 points, a 25-week closing high. The index is in an uptrend channel dating back to June and this week broke above the 61.8 percent retracement of its drop from this year's peak, a bullish signal.
"A clear break above 1,650-1,660 level (will) give a strong buy signal, leading the break towards 1,780 and even to 2,000," said Musa Haddad, head of the MENA equity desk at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
The index broke convincingly this week above its 200-week moving average, now at 1,635 points, which indicates a major move upward, he added.
Emaar Properties gained 1.4 percent and telecom operator du climbed 2.8 percent. Three analysts polled by Reuters expect Du to post a 36 percent rise in third-quarter net profit in coming days.
"We've seen a strong move in Dubai recently but things are turning a bit quiet before Eid holidays," said Chahir Hosni, head of Gulf institutional sales at EFG Hermes.
"People are focused on Du - the Q3 numbers will justify the current price, which is being driven by good expectations."
Gulf markets will close late next week for the Muslim holiday on Eid al Adha.
Abu Dhabi's measure slipped 0.1 percent on Thursday, easing away from Wednesday's 14-month high.
Investors booked recent gains with large-caps and property stocks lower. Abu Dhabi National Energy fell 1.5 percent and telecom firm etisalat shed 0.1 percent.
Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate declined 0.7 and 1.5 percent respectively.
Elsewhere, Qatar's measure ticked up 0.1 percent, losing momentum since Tuesday's three-week closing high, and Oman's bourse closed nearly flat.