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MENAFN - Arab News - 13/03/2010

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi stocks extended gains last week, led by the petrochemical and banking sectors, particularly the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) that closed the week at a 14-month high.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) gained 1.35 percent on weekly basis, closing at 6,565.95 points.

Overall, six sectors closed negatively, with sector losses ranging from -0.01 percent in the transport sector to -2.34 percent in the multi-investment sector. Otherwise, sector losses were -0.13 percent in real estate development, -0.38 percent in Agriculture & Food Industries, -0.92 percent in Media & Publishing and -1.62 percent in the Insurance sector. On the positive side, sector gains on a weekly basis were seen in nine sectors, ranging from 0.65 percent in the Telecomm & IT sector to a gain of 2.35 percent in the Petrochemical Industries, the Jeddah-based Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its weekly market report.

"Optimism dominated the Saudi market last week after the Capital Market Authority (CMA) dropped hints that it was in the process of liberalizing procedures for foreigners to trade stocks through investment funds," financial analyst and member of the Saudi Economic Society Mohammad Emran said.

He expected the new rules, to be adopted within three weeks, to attract more foreign buying.

The top gainer last week was Food Products Co. Its shares jumped 9.94 percent to SR19.90. The other major gainers were Astra Industrial Group (8.83 percent), The Mediterranean & Gulf Insurance & Reinsurance Co. (5.66 percent), Sahara Petrochemical (5.54 percent) and SABB (4 percent).

SABIC shares closed 3.33 percent to SR93 last week. So far this year, SABIC shares surged 12.73 percent.

United Cooperative Assurance Co. shares plunged 9.36 percent to SR39.70 last week.

The value of Saudi shares traded increased to SR13.98 billion last week compared to SR12.23 billion in the previous week.

Arab bourses closed higher last week, deriving momentum from rising crude prices and improving demand by foreigners, financial analysts said Friday.

The United Arab Emirates stocks led the rally with improving prospects for repaying debts of the Dubai World conglomerate that encouraged more foreign funds to enter the stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, they added.

"I believe rising oil prices and the optimism over the repayment of the Dubai World debts are the main catalysts for regional markets this week," Nizar Taher, chief of brokerage at the Jordan Ahli Bank, told Arab News.

"I think the Dubai World debt crisis will eventually find a way to solution because the emirate enjoys the financial backing of the UAE government and leading businesses in the Gulf region," he said.

Reports said Thursday that the Dubai World was close to an agreement with lenders on a proposal for restructuring 26 billion of debt.

Jordanian shares were volatile last week due to persistent lack of confidence and hesitant foreign buying, Taher said.

However, he expected Jordanian shares to rally in the coming weeks in the wake of steps by the monetary authorities to ease restrictions on bank credit to traders.

The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange gained 0.65 percent last week, to close at 2,482 points, according to the market's weekly report.

Kuwait's KSE all-share index gained 0.3 percent last week, closing at 7,458 points.

The benchmarks of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges jumped 6.2 percent and 3.9 percent last week, to close at 1,684 points and 2,833 points respectively.

Egypt's AGX30 index, measuring the performance of the market's 30 most active stocks, edged lower closing week at 6,769 points from 6,783 points previous week.

The GulfBase GCC index increased by 1.06 percent to 3,902.37 points last week. The value of GCC traded shares jumped 34.14 percent to 6.55 billion and volume soared 87.45 percent to 5.47 billion of shares.

By Khalil Hanware & Abdul Jalil Mustafa


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