March 27, 2017 / 1:15 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Region follows global downtrend; Emaar Malls drops on Souq.com bid

* Trading volumes across markets very low

* Emaar Malls down after confirming bid to acquire Souq.com

* Abu Dhabi, Qatar close near flat

* Egypt's Pioneers down on decision not to pay dividend

* Arabia Cotton Ginning outperforms on strong cotton exports

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, March 27 (Reuters) - Most Middle Eastern stock markets fell in thin trade on Monday, in line with global losses, with Egypt hit particularly hard.

The Saudi stock index edged down 0.3 percent in the lowest volume since September; declining shares outnumbered advancing ones by 115 to 31. Most petrochemical producers fell, with Saudi Kayan Petrochemical losing 0.7 percent.

The largest dairy producer, Almarai, fell 0.7 percent and United Wire Factories dropped 2.0 percent as they both went ex-dividend.

In Dubai, Emaar Malls fell 2.0 percent to 2.49 dirhams, a 13-month low, after the company confirmed it was making an $800 million bid to acquire e-commerce operator Souq.com.

It had already dropped 0.8 percent on Sunday in response to a local media report revealing the bid, which could put Emaar Malls in a bidding war with Amazon.com. Sources said last week that the U.S. firm had agreed in principle to buy Souq.com.

Twenty other Dubai stocks also closed lower, dragging the index down 0.4 percent. Builder Arabtec, the most actively traded share on Monday, fell 1.1 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index recovered from losses earlier in the day to close flat. RAK Properties slumped 9.9 percent as it went ex-dividend; a Dubai trader said many retail investors dumped the stock after obtaining the dividend payout, and there was little institutional support for the stock.

Large-cap Aldar Properties helped mitigate losses by adding 0.8 percent.

In Qatar, the index added 0.2 percent with a little over four-fifths of traded shares closing higher. Vodafone Qatar rose 2.1 percent.

In Egypt, the index sank 1.1 percent with sell orders intensifying in the final hour. Pioneers Holding fell 2.6 percent after its board decided not to distribute a cash dividend for 2016. On Sunday the investment firm reported 35 percent growth in full-year net profit.

Arabia Cotton Ginning jumped 4.1 percent in unusually heavy trade after a local online news service, Alborsa News, quoted the director of the Cotton Egypt Association as saying the country's cotton exports unexpectedly rose 20 percent between mid-October and mid-March, thanks to higher demand and higher cotton prices.

MONDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged down 0.3 percent to 6,852 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 3,454 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index was flat at 4,465 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 10,429 points.

KUWAIT

* The index declined 0.1 percent to 7,032 points.

EGYPT

* The index lost 1.1 percent to 12,970 points.

OMAN

* The index fell 0.9 percent to 5,604 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 1,383 points.

Editing by Andrew Torchia and Gareth Jones

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