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MENAFN - Arab News - 12/12/2010

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi stocks inched down, with petrochemical shares falling after oil prices dropped on Friday, while banking shares also fell slightly on Saturday.

The 146-stock Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) closed little changed at 6,455.99, the lowest since Dec. 7. About 148 million shares changed hands, 15 percent less than the three-month daily average and the lowest since Nov. 10.

The sector activity for the day was mostly positive with 10 out of 15 closing with gains ranging from 0.09 percent by the Real Estate Development sector to 2.41 percent by the Building & Construction sector. On the other hand the losing sectors ranged from 0.09 percent by the Banks & Financial Services sector and the Retail sector to 2.09 percent by the Cement sector. The overall market breadth for the day was negative with 72 advancers against 49 decliners giving it an AD ratio of 1.46, the Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its daily market commentary.

The stock market turnover reached SR3.37 billion.

Al-Rajhi Bank, the biggest Islamic lender, ended down 0.6 percent.

The petrochemical index closed down 0.3 percent.

"Investors are feeling good about oil, with seemingly no desire by OPEC and Saudis to raise output levels," said Amro Halwani, a trader at Shuaa Capital in Riyadh. Still, "investors will remain hesitant to place larger bets on petrochemical stocks until they see the extent of China's monetary tightening."

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the largest petrochemical maker, was unchanged at SR105. Sahara Petrochemical Co. trimmed early gains, ending up 1 percent to 24.10 riyals.

"The market is offering a mixed bag, with cement companies declining as they await an update on a requested loosening of export regulations," said Fuad Aghabi, investment director at Ajeej Capital in Riyadh. "Banks continue to pressure the index as traders await news on fourth-quarter provisions in line with recent central bank guidelines."

Saudi Cement Co. dropped 2 percent, the most since June 29, to SR49, while Al-Rajhi Bank, the Kingdom's largest publicly-traded lender by market value, retreated 0.3 percent, the most since Dec. 6, to SR77.75.


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