By David French
DUBAI, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The Abu Dhabi index hit a 14-month on Tuesday, lifted by real estate stocks which gained on the prospect of consolidation in the struggling sector.
Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate were the main drivers, together accounting for nearly 75 percent of all shares traded on the bourse .
The firms said due diligence on their proposed merger was ongoing but the discussions were at an advanced state, in a joint statement to the stock exchange on Tuesday. This followed a senior Sorouh executive saying on Sunday that an announcement would be made within a month.
"There has been a lot of speculation on the share prices, and we're still lacking some clarity on the merger details," said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Investments.
"However, especially for Sorouh, the book values are trading well down so people are looking to get closer to where they think they should be," he said, adding there was still some possible upside for both firms' shares and the index in general.
Other markets in the region ended mixed, with Egypt's index
slipping for a fourth straight session on concerns of a delay in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a $4.8 billion loan.
The loan is seen as vital to restoring confidence in the economy.
"The market is still affected by the IMF news which also kind of backed up a general sentiment among clients that the new government's economic polices are not clear," said Hisham Metwalli, a trader at Cairo-based Arab Finance Brokerage.
Egypt's benchmark ended 0.7 percent lower at 5,612 points. Orascom Construction fell 0.3 percent and Pioneers Holding slumped 6.6 percent, weighing on the index.
Profit-taking after the recent rally weighed on Dubai's index which fell for the first session in four, following on from Monday's largest one-day gain since July. Property stocks, which drove the market higher in the previous session, ended lower.
Union Properties fell 2.7 percent, while bellwether Emaar Properties slipped 0.8 percent, underperforming the broader index which ended 0.3 percent lower.
Markets in Saudi Arabia , Qatar and Oman
rose slightly. The Saudi index ended 0.2 percent higher amid subdued volumes.
TUESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS ABU DHABI * The index advanced 0.5 percent to 2,647 points. EGYPT * The index retreated 0.7 percent to 5,612 points. DUBAI * The measure fell 0.3 percent to 1,604 points. SAUDI ARABIA * The benchmark grew 0.2 percent to 6,896 points QATAR * The measure climbed 0.2 percent to 8,536 points. OMAN * The index advanced 0.7 percent to 5,602 points. KUWAIT * The measure slipped 0.1 percent to 5,972 points. BAHRAIN * The benchmark edged up 0.1 percent to 1,079 points. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirhams)
(Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh in Cairo; Writing by Rachna Uppal; Editing by Amran Abocar)
Keywords: MIDEAST MARKETS/WRAP