(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The general index of Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) edged down by 0.4 per cent closing last week at 2,594.81 points. Share prices of leading companies in the banking and mining sectors dropped sharply but the fall was offset by a significant rise in the prices of heavyweight stocks, particularly the shares of Jordan Electric Power, Jordan Telecom and Jordan Petroleum Refinery.
We expect the market to fluctuate within a narrow price range while investors seek shares of companies which announced substantial cash dividends.
Three sector indices advanced led by the services which gained 2 per cent followed by the insurance which rose by 0.8 per cent. Banking was the biggest loser as the sector's index declined by 1.6 per cent.
As for trading activity, 106.2 million shares exchanged hands. leaving losses at 92 firms and gains at 79 entities out of 191 traded companies.
In terms of value traded by sector, the industrial came in first place accounting for 50.9 per cent of the total value traded followed by the diversified financial services sector with 23.3 per cent and then the real estate which accounted for 8.8 per cent of the value traded.
The most actively traded shares last week were those of Ad Dulayl Industrial Park, Al Tajamouat for Catering & Housing, and South Electronics Company with a combined value traded of JD42.4 million accounting for 23.3 per cent of the total value traded.
The general assembly of Bank of Jordan decided to distribute JD15 million or 15 per cent cash dividends to the company's shareholders.
Jordan Telecom's board of directors recommended to the general assembly the distribution of JD100 million cash dividends to shareholders at the rate of 40 per cent.
The general assembly of Petra Education Company approved the distribution of 15 per cent cash dividends to shareholders.
Middle East Diversified Investment's board of directors decided to increase the company's paid-up capital from JD2 million to JD15 million through a private placement to existing shareholders at the price of JD1.
Specialised Investments Compounds Company has signed an agreement with an Iraqi investor to establish a foodstuff factory which will provide more than 50 job opportunities in the first phase of production
The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) lowered rates by half a percentage point. The decrease lowered the discount price to 5.75 per cent from 6 per cent, the repurchase price to 5.5 per cent from 6 per cent, and the deposit window rate from 4 per cent to 3.5 per cent per annum.
The CBJ also reduced the rate of compulsory cash reserves on banks' deposits in both local and foreign currencies to 8 per cent from 9 per cent, starting end of May 2009.
According to data issued by the Department of Statistics (DoS), the consumer price index rose by 4.5 per cent during the first two months of 2009 compared to the same period last year and the price index of agricultural producers declined by 4.5 per cent in January 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.
The DoS also revealed that the general industrial production index dropped by 6.8 per cent in the first month of this year compared to the same period last year and the general industrial price index declined by 6.3 per cent in January 2009, compared to the same period last year.