DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were generally weak in early trade on Tuesday on concern about weaker oil prices and the prospect of multiple possible U.S. interest rate hikes this year. A retreat by Shuaa Capital dampened Dubai.
The Dubai index fell 1.1 percent as Shuaa dropped 3.2 percent. It had risen more than 18 percent to a 7-year high in the previous two days after local news provider MEED quoted Shuaa chairman Jassim Alseddiqi as saying it was in talks with a larger regional financial institution over a potential share-swap merger in a deal that could be worth billions of dirhams.
GFH Financial, which jumped 7 percent on Monday because some investors think it could be the merger partner, was flat in heavy trade. GFH has growing financial ties with Abu Dhabi Financial Group, Shuaa’s main shareholder.
Air Arabia plunged 5.9 percent as it went ex-dividend.
The Saudi Arabian index fell 0.4 percent in the first hour as telecommunications firm Zain Saudi dropped back 1.8 percent.
Saudi Arabia Refineries sank 4.0 percent after it reported a full-year loss of 4.0 million riyals.
Qatar’s index lost 0.4 percent with United Development tumbling 6.8 percent as it went ex-dividend. But Commercial Bank of Qatar, the most heavily traded stock, rose 2.0 percent.
Abu Dhabi edged down 0.1 percent as Eshraq Properties , the most active stock, fell 0.9 percent. On Monday Eshraq had jumped 3.5 percent; Abu Dhabi Financial Group owns 9.47 percent of Eshraq. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Louise Ireland)