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MENAFN - Arab News - 17/01/2009

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(MENAFN - Arab News)
Saudi shares suffered throughout the week, led by the petrochemical and banking sectors.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) plunged 7.27 percent last week, closing at 4,935.33 points from 5,322.22 points previous week.

"The market will continue its narrow fluctuations around 5,000 points, while investors are waiting for banks to disclose their financial results. This will give investors an indication of the magnitude of the effect of the global financial crisis on this sector which represents 38 percent of the market cap," the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG) said in its weekly commentary.

Al-Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. was the top gainer last week as its shares jumped 47.65 percent to SR22, while Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance was the top loser as its shares plunged 21.70 percent to SR46. The stock market turnover also declined last week to SR25.70 billion compared to SR34.74 billion in the previous week.

Other Arab stock markets plummeted across the board last week in response to losses incurred by the world's major bourses, the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip and falling oil prices, financial analysts said yesterday.

They expected regional markets to suffer further in the coming weeks amid expectations that the 2008 results of listed firms would come worse that expected.

"I believe regional markets will be cautious in the coming couple of weeks as investors monitor the release of annual results," Wajdi Makhamreh, chief operating officer at the Amman-based Sanabel International Holding, told Arab News. "Investors expect the 2008 corporate results to be worse than expected due to the global financial turmoil and the subsequent recession," he said.

Makhamreh said that the performance of Middle East stock markets would depend to a large extent on "geopolitics and the outcome of the current initiatives that seek to establish a truce at the Gaza Strip."

Other major factors affecting Arab bourses will include the stimulus package due to be adopted by the new US administration of President-elect Barack Obama who is due to be sworn in on Tuesday, he added.

Jordanian stocks also extended losses last week amid a persisting lack of confidence and the contraction of credit facilities by local banks, Makhamreh said.

The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange shed 1.00 percent last week, to close at 2,775 points from previous week's close at 2,803 points, according to the ASE weekly report.

Kuwait's KSE all-share price index plunged 4.00 percent, closing at 7,079 points from 7,372 points previous week.

The benchmark of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi declined 2.4 percent last week, closing at 2,626 points from 2,690 points previous week.

Egypt's CASE-30 index, which measures the performance of the market's 30 most active stocks, plummeted 6.6 percent last week, to close at 4,327 points compared with previous week's close at 4,634 points.

Analysts blamed the decline on a sell-off throughout the week by foreign investors.

The GulfBase GCC Index fell 7.62 percent to 3,107.86 points. The value of traded shares dropped by 25.83 percent to 8.27 billion, while volume declined by 21.66 percent to 3.37 billion of shares.

Market turnover falls

The BMG Saudi Index ended last week on a negative note. The index fell by 22.37 points or 8.4 percent to close at 242.82. The total market turnover declined by 36.5 percent to SR14.11 billion (3.8 billion) versus SR22.2 billion (5.9 billion) registered in the last trading week. The number of shares traded over the week also dropped by 38.1 percent from 1.3 billion shares to 804.20 million shares.

The average price-earnings (P/E) ratio for 2007's earnings was 11.2 times, while the price-to-book ratio (P/BV) was 2.57 times. All the sectors witnessed a negative performance last week. The worst performing sector was the insurance sector, depreciating by 13.8 percent, followed by the industrial sector, shedding 10.6 percent.


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