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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 08/04/2007

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(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) index dropped for the second week in a row to reach on Tuesday its lowest point since January 2 when it hit the 6890 level.

The index finished its weekly session on Thursday at 6045.6 points, a decline of 1.68 per cent. Market capitalisation stood at JD23.2 billion.

On the economic front, the preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) figures published by the Department of Statistics indicated a 6.4 per cent growth in the economy during 2006. The GDP reached JD10.1 billion last year compared to JD9 billion in 2005.

The inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index reached 6.3 per cent in 2006 compared to 3.5 per cent the year before whereas the unemployment rate declined marginally to 14 per cent compared to 14.8 per cent in 2005.

The monthly report of the companies' Comptroller Department showed a 5.9 per cent drop in the number of companies registered during the first quarter of this year compared to 2005. The number of companies registered reached 2539 companies.

On the trading floor, the average daily trading volume fell by 20.6 per cent to JD31.824 million. Overall, decliners outnumbered advancers as 57 companies out of 167 advanced, while 93 companies declined.

In the banking sector, Arab Bank's general assembly approved the board's recommendation of a 25 per cent cash distribution, an amount equal to JD89 million. Disappointed investors drove down the share price by 3.25 per cent by the end of the week and 8.7 per cent over the course of the past two weeks.

The Hariri family currently holds 17.7 per cent of Arab Bank shares, after BankMed, a member of the Hariri group, purchased 983,000 shares through two block deals that cost JD23.088 million.

The general assembly of the Housing Bank approved a cash dividend of 26 per cent, after the bank achieved a JD92.3 million net income for the year compared to JD71.8 million in 2005. The bank's share price declined by 4.77 per cent last week to close at JD6.39/share.

In the insurance sector, Arab Orient Insurance held its leading position in the sector in terms of the insurance premiums subscribed. The company received a total of JD22.14 million in premiums last year up by 21 per cent from 2005, while the company's market share stood at 8.61 per cent. The general assembly of Arab Orient Insurance approved a cash dividend equivalent to 10 per cent of the company's paid-up capital of JD5 million.

In the services sector, Tameer Jordan and the Housing and Urban Development Corporation have signed an agreement to develop and construct Al Jeezah housing city, which will contain 16,000 housing units priced at various ranges targeting citizens of different income levels. The project is estimated to cost 900 million.

Jordan Electric Power achieved a net income of JD15.4 million in 2006 up by 47.5 per cent from 2005. The growth in income was driven by non-operating revenues and cancelled payable interest.

In the industry sector, the financial statements of Middle East Complex for Engineering, Electronics and Heavy Industry revealed a 15.6 per cent growth in the company's sales figures in 2006 to JD117.3 million compared to JD101.5 million in 2005. These sales figures filtered down to a net income of JD9.87 million compared to a net income of JD22 million back in 2005 a drop of 55 per cent.


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