The Saudi stock market started the new year with a surge, with the Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) crossing the 17,000-point barrier and closing at a new all-time high of 17,498.99 points on Wednesday. The jump was driven by rising blue chips, mainly by the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), which gained 5.48 percent in a week.
The index closed on Thursday at 17,457.61 points, up from 16,749.95 points previous week. The index gained 4.22 percent in a week.
The value of shares traded rose to SR148.53 billion from SR143.66 billion in the previous week. SABIC's shares worth 11.92 billion and Saudi Electricity Co. shares worth SR10.82 billion changed hands last week.
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co. was the top gainer last week with a 25.04 percent increase, followed by Yamamah Cement, up 23.54 percent, Bishah Agriculture, up 23.02 percent, Eastern Cement, up 18.95 percent, and Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. (SADAFCO), up 16.15 percent.
Among the top losers last week were Gizan Agriculture, down 7.90 percent, and Saudi Cable Co., down 6.54 percent.
Meanwhile, Kuwait's KSE all-share price index edged slightly higher last week, closing at 11,453 points, compared with last week's close at 11,445 points.
The United Arab Emirates bourses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi were declared closed for one week as of Wednesday, a few hours after the passing away of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Maktoum ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum, widely considered the architect of the huge progress achieved by the emirate over the past decades.
Both stock markets extended losses upon the news of Sheikh Maktoum's death before their managements decided to end dealings, dealers said.
Arab stocks are expected to remain bullish in the coming months, drawing fresh momentum from the 2005 results and the availability of huge liquidity seeking investment outlets, financial analysts said yesterday.
However, they pointed out that they were "not so optimistic" in the long term as they saw regional stocks becoming "overvalued".
All Arab stock markets will be closed for most of this week for the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
"I believe stocks are poised to score fresh gains in the coming two or three months, buoyed by good results achieved in 2005, which are expected to start going out as of next week," Saqr Abdul Fattah, investment manager at the Amman-based Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, told Arab News.
"However, I am not very optimistic in the long term as several stocks have become overvalued," he said.
The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange jumped 6.81 percent last week, closing on Thursday at 8,749 points, compared to 8,192 points the previous week, according to the ASE weekly report.
The benchmark price was boosted by the banking sector which gained 8.75 percent, particularly the heavyweight Arab Bank, and by strong demand on investment and real estate shares, dealers said.
Abdul Fattah expected the banking sector to continue its leadership of the Jordanian market in the coming months, but said he believed the investment and real estate shares would "move to the back seat again".