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MENAFN - Arab News - 09/05/2009

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Middle East stock markets rallied last week, deriving impetus from improving performance in global markets and emerging prospects for an end to the world's recession, financial analysts said yesterday.

"We believe that regional markets are deriving momentum from gains scored by world markets and expectations that the global downturn could be bottoming out," an Amman-based portfolio manager said.

"Rising oil prices are also sending positive signals to investors particularly in the Gulf region, which suffered the brunt of losses in the Arab area as a result of the world slump," he said.

Oil prices rose back above 57 a barrel yesterday. Oil prices soared on Thursday above 58 before falling back in late trade as investors banked profits.

Saudi shares performed strongly last week, propelled by the petrochemical sector that gained 11 percent. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. was the market's driving engine with strong weekly gains of nearly 20 percent. It was most active by value also as shares worth SR9.5 billion changed hands last week.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) gained 3.1 percent last week, closing at 5,802.14 points, a record high this year. TASI is currently 20.8 percent higher than the year's start.

The rally of Saudi stocks over the past month was mainly in response to "the positive trend of global markets and investors' optimism that the world economy has passed the bottom of its recession", the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG) said in its weekly report.

The group predicted that the Saudi bourse could witness "a healthy corrective decline", given its strong gains over the past weeks.

The stock market turnover was over SR43.96 billion last week.

SABB Takaful was the top gainer last week as its shares jumped 27.62 percent to SR134. Sanad Insurance & Reinsurance Cooperative Company's shares plunged 24.80 percent to close at SR37.60.

Jordanian shares were volatile for most of the week, apparently in response to fluctuations at global and other Arab markets and varying levels of liquidity.

However, the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) picked up in the last two days of the week, driven by blue chips mainly the mining sector, analysts said.

The ASE all-share price index gained 0.85 percent last week to close at 2,760 points, according to the market's weekly report.

Kuwait's KSE all-share price index gained 2.6 percent last week, closing at 7,753 points on optimism ahead of the general elections set for May 16.

The United Arab Emirates stock exchange of Dubai gained 2.4 percent last week despite of what analysts described as a profit-taking move that swept the market on Thursday. The market's benchmark closed at 1,644 points compared with previous week's close at 1,606 points.

Egypt's AGX30 index, measuring the performance of the market's 30 most active stocks, climbed 6.1 percent last week, closing at 5,507 points.

The GulfBase GCC Index edged higher by 4.42 percent to 3,514.25 points. The value of GCC traded stocks also increased by 30.88 percent to 17.10 billion and volume surged by 36.14 percent to 10.37 billion of shares.

By Khalil Hanware


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