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MENAFN - Times of Oman - 22/04/2009

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(MENAFN - Times of Oman) Share prices plunged for the second consecutive day on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) on heavy profit-booking as share prices across the Gulf declined following losses announced by Saudi Basic Industries Corp. The benchmark MSM-30 index shed 243.99 points or 4.82 per cent to 5,065 points.

Volume declined 30.7 per cent, from RO13.367 million to RO9.258 million yesterday.

Trading volume, in terms of number of shares exchanged, also fell 31.9 per cent to 27.986 million shares against the previous day's 41.097 million shares. The index had shed 3.08 per cent on Monday after 12 days of continuous surge.

Foreigners were net sellers yesterday. Foreign investors sold 5.5 per cent (RO0.51million) in the total turnover. The market was weak with seven advances and 40 declines out of 55 traded securities.

Among the sectors, the industry sector was the biggest loser which closed lower 4.86 per cent to 4.766 points. The banking and investment sector closed lower 3.9 per cent to 6.682 and the Service and Insurance sector closed lower by 3.09 per cent to 2.320 points.

The top two gainers were: Gulf International Chemicals (7.69 per cent) and Sahara Hospitality (5.73 per cent) to close at RO0.140 and RO1.900 respectively.

The top two losers were: Muscat National Holding (-9.99 per cent) and National Securities (-9.90 per cent) closing at RO2.252 and RO0.091 respectively.

The top two by volume traded were: Al Jazeira Services (7.9 million shares) and Galfar Engineering (4.35 million shares). The top two by value traded were: Galfar Engineering (RO 2.8 million) and BankMuscat (RO1.4 million).

Saudi shares tumbled the most in three months, leading declines across the Gulf, after Saudi Basic Industries Corp. announced its first loss since 2001 as the region's biggest publicly traded company booked writedowns.

Tadawul falls

Saudi Arabia's Tadawul All Share Index fell as much as 6.2 per cent, the most since January 20, and was down 3.3 per cent at 5,048.82 at 2:26pm in Riyadh.

Saudi Basic, or Sabic, slumped as much as 9.9 per cent, the most allowed in a day, to SR42 as the world's biggest chemical maker by market value posted a first-quarter loss of SR974 million (259.7 million) and booked a goodwill writedown of SR1.18 billion.

The world's largest oil-exporting economy is likely to shrink by 0.2 per cent this year, according to Merrill Lynch & Co., as the global financial crisis hurts demand for crude and the plastics and fertilisers produced by Sabic.

Crude for May delivery fell as much as 1.5 per cent to 45.19 per barrel, adding to the 8.8 per cent decline on Monday, on signs a US recession extending into the second half of the year will cut fuel demand. Oil was last up 0.2 per cent.

"The markets are adjusting to the first-quarter earnings, Sabic's results did not meet analyst expectations," said Faisal Hasan, head of research at Global Investment House KSCC, which was Kuwait's biggest investment company by market value before shares plunged last year. "International demand is weighing down on oil prices."

Stocks in Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, fell the most this month, as the Doha Securities Market 20 Index lost 4.3 per cent. Dubai's benchmark dropped 0.3 per cent. Abu Dhabi equities declined 2.2 per cent led by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC.


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