(MENAFN - Arab News) JEDDAH, 26 August 2007 — The total number of companies traded on the Saudi stock market reached 100 yesterday as the new Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance started trading for the first time. Shares in the new insurance company soared 997.50 percent on debut. The SR10 shares opened at SR109.75 and stayed at that level during trading yesterday.
Most of the insurance companies made solid starts on the stock market after successfully launching initial public offerings (IPOs) recently.
Shares in the newly listed Alahli Takaful Company (ATC) also jumped 9.98 percent yesterday to close at SR176.25.
Saudi Indian is the 11th company to be traded in the insurance sector which was earlier dominated by the National Company for Cooperative Insurance (NCCI) for quite some time. NCCI shares slipped 1.53 percent to SR128.50 while shares in all other companies increased yesterday.
Saudi IAIC Cooperative Insurance Co. (Salama) shares surged by 4.72 percent to SR138.75, Saudi United Cooperative Insurance Company (Walaa Insurance) by 2.22 percent to SR80.75, The Mediterranean & Gulf Insurance & Reinsurance Co. (MedGulf) by 2.21 percent to SR69.50 and Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance Co. by 2.20 percent to SR81.25.
The Saudi stock market also continued its upward march as the Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) edged higher by 7.53 points to 8,096.62 yesterday. The index gained 2.38 percent last week.
The stock market turnover also crossed the SR10 billion mark yesterday compared to SR52.56 billion last week.
Abdullah Tariq Al-Qasbi of the Rawaj Consultancy Co., said: "The stock market index currently is passing through a stage of relative security and trust and will continue to be so until it reaches 9,000 points.
But after it crosses that mark, then it will be entering a phase of caution and watching." Talking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said, however, the phase of security is relative as it will vary from trader to trader. The investor will be face to face with a golden opportunity to shift the focus and look for the best possible opportunities. It would be a good field for high-risk speculators, he said.
Abdul Aziz Al-Barkat, a banking expert and financial analyst, said: "The volume of liquidity added to the stock market in the past week gives considerable relief with good trading in the present week." He said that the liquidity would further prompt stability and buying in the stock market particularly with the entry of new investment funds and the return of several large investors. Al-Barakat added the speculation activities will continue thriving mostly by the smaller traders who are driven by the dream to compensate for their losses in the crash in February last year. He believed that insurance sector is currently the most promising.
There was a mixed performance in the banking sector. Saudi Hollandi Bank was the top loser yesterday as its shares dropped 2.51 percent to SR48.50. Shares in Al-Rajhi Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi and Arab National Bank also declined.
In the industrial sector, shares in Food Products Co. increased 9.52 percent to SR51.75 and Filling & Packing Materials Manufacturing Co. (FIFCO) by 8.05 percent to SR104.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) shares edged higher slightly to SR132.75.
In the telecom sector, shares in Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) were up slightly to SR73 while Etihad Etisalat shares fell to SR70.75.
The agriculture sector was also in the positive territory yesterday. Shares in Tabuk Agriculture rose 5.79 percent to SR64, Qassim Agriculture by 4.55 percent to SR23 and Saudi Fisheries by 3.31 percent to SR93.50.