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MENAFN - Arab News - 28/03/2010

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The Saudi stock market kept its upward momentum on Saturday after surging 1.24 percent last week. Heavyweights Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and Al-Rajhi Bank led Saudi stocks to a higher close. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) gained 44.66 points or 0.66 percent to close at 6,801.44, with 11 sectors closing with gains while only 4 sectors closed with a loss.

The four other losing sectors were the Energy & Utilities, Multi-Investment, Transport and Cement sectors, which were down 0.08 percent, 0.20 percent, 0.25 percent and 0.37 percent respectively. On the positive side, sector gains ranged from 0.11 percent in both the Media & Publishing and the Hotel & Tourism sectors, whereas the Real Estate Development sector showed a gain of 1.12 percent. Overall market breadth was positive, with 58 advancers and 53 decliners, recording an AD ratio of 1.09, the Jeddah-based Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its daily market report.

Saturday's gain has pushed the TASI to its highest level since October 2008, the FTH report said.

The value of traded shares reached SR3.15 billion on Saturday.

Al-Rajhi Bank shares jumped 3.04 percent to SR84.75. Shares in Banque Saudi Fransi, The Saudi Investment Bank and Arab National Bank declined on Saturday.

The Mediterranean & Gulf Insurance & Reinsurance Co. was the top gainer as its shares surged 4.56 percent to close at SR29.80.

Shares in Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate Development Company and Herfy Food Services Co. increased by 2.87 percent and 2.46 percent respectively.

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. shares edged higher by 0.50 percent to SR40.30 after it announced that it has entered preliminary agreements to buy stakes in three retail firms, part of its plans to expand in the region. Alhokair signed memorandums of understanding to buy stakes in Retail Group Gulf, Retail Group Egypt and Retail Group Jordan, the company said.

Meanwhile, although GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region's earnings improved in Q4 2009 due to rising crude oil prices, the earnings declined by 5 percent in 2009, the Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz) said in its report.

Saudi Arabia registered a growth of 26 percent in its earnings. UAE's corporate earnings declined 32 percent due to Dubai's debt woes. The banking sector, which contributed 45 percent of overall corporate earnings, witnessed a decline of 19 percent in 2009. Furthermore, the real estate sector's earnings declined 86 percent in 2009, the Markaz report said.

Fourth quarter earnings plummeted due to a correction in real estate prices in Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait. Furthermore, the debt crisis in Dubai led to greater provisioning by banks against credit losses and impairment in the value of investments and adversely impacted banking earnings during the fourth quarter.

On a YoY basis, the financial services and real estate sectors' earnings witnessed largest hit, down 67 percent and 64 percent, respectively in 2009, the report added.

The Markaz report said GCC banks earnings declined 1 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, conglomerates posted a profit of 971 million in 2009 compared to a loss of 8 billion in 2008.

Telecommunication sector registered a 7 percent growth in earnings in 2009.

A quantum jump in Ezdan Real Estate Company's Q4 profits (2.3 billion) aided Qatar to record an earning growth of 14 percent in 2009. Bahrain was the worst performer for the year 2009 in the GCC region, this is particularly due to steep losses (728 million in 2009) reported by Gulf Finance House.

Oman's Real Estate sector reported an earning growth of 22 percent in 2009.

Nevertheless, 19 percent and 28 percent fall in the banking and conglomerates sectors, respectively led to a 14 percent decline in Oman's earnings.

By Khalil Hanware


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