The performance of the Saudi stock exchange was mixed last week for the third week in a row. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) closed week on Thursday virtually unchanged at 16,339.58 points.
TASI showed a gradual rise in the first half of the week, registering an all-time high of 16,430.56 points as a result of the gains scored by the banking sector particularly Al-Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp.
Al-Rajhi Bank shares gained 3.68 percent last week.
However, the benchmark price was pushed down afterward due to profit-taking, the Bakheet Financial Advisors (BFA) said in its weekly report.
TASI is currently 99.11 percent higher than the year's start.
The BFA expected Saudi stocks to continue fluctuations in a "narrow band" during December, with investors inclined to "re-evaluate their positions" in the run-up for the release of 2005 results.
Tourism Enterprise Co. shares jumped 19.24 percent in a week to SR543.75, followed by Al-Baha Investment & Development Co. by 16.97 percent at SR320.50, Saudi Arabia Refineries Co. by 16.94 percent at SR2,045 and National Agriculture Marketing Co. by 13.90 percent at SR426.
However, shares of Tihama Advertising & Public Relations Co. and the National Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia's dropped by 4.88 percent and 3.36 percent, respectively, in a week.
The value of the shares traded last week crossed SR125 billion mark.
Trading at the Kuwaiti stock exchange was volatile last week. The KSE all-share price index rose 1.6 percent, closing at 11,869 points, compared to previous week's close at 11,680 points.
The United Arab Emirates stocks continued their retreat last week for the third week in a row with investors affected by rumors that prices could falter after they had reached record levels, analysts said.
Dubai Stock Exchange's all-share price index dipped 5 percent last week, closing at 1,108.4 points while the benchmark price of Abu Dhabi bourse edged lower at 5,515.3 points. "We believe the low prices of the UAE stocks provide a promising buy opportunity for investors," said Zuhair Kiswani from the Sharhan Brokerage Center.
Meanwhile, Arab stocks are expected to score fresh gains as of the beginning of January, buoyed by 2005 results, huge surplus petrodollars and an improving political climate in Iraq and Palestine, financial analysts said yesterday.
"I believe regional stock markets are still promising, given the good results achieved by listed firms in 2005 and the huge surplus petrodollars accumulated by Gulf countries over the past year," Saqr Abdul Fattah, investment manager at the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, told Arab News.
"Stock markets continue to attract an increasing number of investors, who still see beneficial opportunities in shares. This trend will draw momentum from the improving political circumstances in Iraq and Palestine," he said.
Abdul Fattah saw "no problems" in the short term as a result of the increase in capital of many firms listed on regional stock exchanges and the creation of new businesses. "There is huge liquidity in the market capable of meeting all these developments, but in the long term the situation could be different, as much will depend on both the macro and micro performances in respective countries," he said.
He said Jordanian stocks "stood to gain" from a scramble on the part of Gulf capitalists to invest in the country's real estate sector. He alluded to pledges by leading Gulf investment firms last week to set up real estate projects with a total capital of about 1.5 billion.
The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange shed 1.38 percent this week, closing on Thursday at 9,090 points, down from 9,218 points previous week, according to the ASE weekly report.
The decline was attributed to a profit-taking move and change of positions on the part of investment funds.
Abdul Fattah expected Jordanian shares to move "within a trading range through December, ahead of a jump in the first week of January".