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MENAFN - Arab News - 11/04/2009

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi shares reflected strong performance last week for the fourth week in a row, partly buoyed by the slowly rising oil prices and a strong wave of speculation on small caps, particularly insurance stocks.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) climbed 6.82 percent to 5,039.03 points last week.

SABB Takaful was the top gainer last week as its shares jumped 60 percent to SR108, followed by Allied Cooperative Insurance Group by 39.91 percent to SR79.75, Tawuniya by 29.31 percent to SR37.50, Trade Union Cooperative Insurance Co. by 29.29 percent to SR21.85 and Al-Ahlia Insurance Co. by 28.28 percent to SR44.

TASI is currently 4.9 percent higher than the year's start.

"This week's rally reflects investors' optimism over last month's series of positive factors on the global financial markets and ahead of the announcement of the first quarter results," the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG) said in its weekly report.

The report predicted that the Saudi stock market could witness "stable performance following a series of rallies, unless global markets deteriorate."

The Saudi stock market turnover was over SR27.36 billion last week.

On Wednesday, Tadawul announced that Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia has become a duly licensed, approved and authorized member firm of Tadawul, with the right to conduct brokerage services and deal as principal and agent in the Saudi stock exchange.

After posting 10 consecutive months of negative returns, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets recorded a 7.94 percent return for March. All the GCC markets, according to Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz), were in positive territory, except Oman's Muscat Stock Market, which lost 4.64 percent. The Kuwait markets led the GCC markets with a 15 percent return.

In March, volume traded in GCC markets increased by 12.6 percent to 25.4 billion shares whereas value traded declined by 4.3 percent to 34.9 billion. The UAE market topped the charts in terms of contribution to overall volume traded in the GCC, with 46 percent of the total while Saudi Arabia contributed the most to value traded, with 67 percent of total.

TASI gained 7.28 percent in March, after losing 8.82 percent in February. The Tadawul's gain was led by SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corp.) and STC (Saudi Telecom Co.), which surged 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Arab stock markets extended gains last week, mainly propelled by speculation on small caps by investors who seemed to adopt hit-and-run strategies pending breakthroughs in the world's fight against recession, financial investors said yesterday.

"Regional markets were led last week by speculators who focused on small caps in the search for speedy profits to the exclusion of long-term blue chip commitments," an Amman-based portfolio manager said.

"I believe Arab markets will witness fluctuations in the coming weeks pending the publication of first quarter results and the emergence of clues as to the outcome of stimulus plans being adopted by the world's major economies to address the global downturn," he said.

The Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) was the scene of fluctuations last week due to profit-taking moves and attempts by many investors to stay on the sidelines to see the performance of listed firms in the first quarter of the year before taking new positions, analysts said.

The ASE all-share price index shed 0.65 percent last week, closing at 2,723 points, according to the market's weekly report.

Kuwait's KSE all-share index surged 5.1 percent last week to close at 7,263 points.

The benchmark prices of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi gained 1.88 percent and 0.96 percent, respectively.

The GulfBase GCC Index increased by 5.63 percent to 3,122.19 last week. The value of GCC traded shares also surged by 46.68 percent to 11.82 billion last week and volume by 57.15 percent to 9.83 billion of shares.


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