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MENAFN - Arab News - 19/04/2008

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi shares extended gains last week giving the impression that the downward trend that lasted for several weeks could be over.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) went up by 1.35 percent, bringing the total gains in two weeks to 4.9 percent.

TASI, which closed last week at 9,630.37 points from 9,501.72 points previous week, is currently 12.8 percent lower than the year's start.

"Investors are still waiting cautiously for the first quarter corporate results, particularly of blue chips in the petrochemical industries and the telecommunication and IT sectors to reallocate their portfolios," the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG) said in its weekly report.

The stock market turnover also increased slightly to SR39.55 billion last week compared to SR38.57 billion in the previous week.

The top gainer last week was Anaam International Holding Group Co. Its shares jumped 20.73 percent to SR83. Shares in Saudi Printing & Packaging Co. (SPPC) edged higher by 14.16 percent last week to SR32.25.

In the banks and financial services sector, shares in SABB gained by 11.63 percent to SR156 and Samba Financial Group by 8.61 percent to SR82 last week.

Saudi Hollandi Bank (SHB) shares dropped 6.94 percent to SR50.25 last week. SHB reported on Wednesday a net profit of SR282.4 million for the three-month period ended on March 31, compared to SR215.4 million profit for the same period in 2007, an increase of 31 percent.

According to a statement available on Tadawul website, Chairman Mubarak Al-Khafrah welcomed these positive results and commented that the bank would seek to maintain its momentum throughout 2008. Managing Director Geoff Calvert stated that Saudi Hollandi Bank maintains a strong financial position with an increase in operating profit of 18 percent to SR311.6 million for the quarter ended March 31.

Net earnings per share for the quarter amounted to SR1.07, whilst total operating income increased by 21 percent to SR518.5 million, mainly due to a 20-percent increase in net special commission income, which grew from SR296.5 million to SR357.1 million. Return on equity at March 31 was 24.2 percent and return-on-assets rose to 2.1 percent.

Arab stock markets steadied last week but investors apparently remained cautious as they awaited the publication of all first quarter results, particularly of blue chip firms, to decide their portfolio holdings for the next period, financial analysts said yesterday.

"Markets are passing through a consolidation phase with investors assuming caution pending the release of all first quarter results," Nizar Taher, head of brokerage at the Jordan Ahli Bank, told Arab News. "Regional bourses apparently still under the impact of what is going on at world markets in response to US recession fears," he said.

However, Taher pointed out that Middle East stock markets stood to gain in the medium and long terms from adamantly surging oil prices that refer to huge surplus revenues due to accrue to the oil-rich Arab region this year.

Jordanian shares were steady last week, thanks to the performance of the strategic stocks particularly the Arab Potash Co., the Jordan Phosphates Mines Co. and the Jordan Petroleum Refinery.

The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange gained 0.15 percent last week, closing at 8,652 points from 8,639 points last week, according to the ASE weekly report.

Kuwait's KSE all-share price index gained 0.6 percent last week to close at 14,774 points compared with previous week's close at 14,690 points.

The benchmark of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi rallied 1.6 percent, closing week at 6,054 percent from 5,957 points previous week.

The GulfBase GCC Index also increased 1.39 percent to 6,893.99 last week. The value of GCC traded shares surged by 4.28 percent to 18.07 billion. However, the volume of traded shares fell 6.23 percent to 5.13 billion of shares.


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