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Markets decline as investors unsettled by regional unrest

Markets Update: Gulf stocks take a breather after strong gains seen earlier this month, as events in Syria, Yemen and Japan provide investors with a reason for profit-taking - with video.

Regional unrest and growing concern over Japan's nuclear disaster tripped advances made by local stocks this month.

Investors were rattled by unrest in Syria and Yemen as Japan's authorities warned that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station had likely suffered a partial meltdown.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index initially fell 0.69 per cent to 1543.43 before rebounding slightly, following a rise of 9.23 per cent since the start of the month. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi stocks declined 0.47 per cent to 2,633.30.

Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based developer, rose 0.63 per cent to Dh3.18 per share in early trading on the Dubai market, while Drake and Scull International rose 0.94 per cent to Dh1.07 per share.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank declined 2.46 per cent to Dh2.38 a share, as speculation mounted that the bank would move to sell its 25 per cent stake in RHB Capital, a Malaysian lender.

"It's a combination of geopolitical risk and international effects of the Japanese nuclear issues," said Marwan Shurrab, chief trader at Gulfmena Alternative Investments. "We're seeing a weaker start in international markets and commodities are losing some ground."

"This all combined with the strong performance we've seen would entice investors towards profit taking and taking some risk off the table," he said.

In the early hours of the morning, the Nikkei 225 slid 0.6 per cent to 9,478.53, while the Hang Seng Index declined 0.61 per cent to 23,019.47. Brent futures decreased 68 cents to $115.15 per barrel.

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