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MENAFN - Arab News - 02/03/2006

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JEDDAH, 2 March 2006 — After a successful and robust performance in February, the Saudi stock market projected an unexpected weak performance on the first day of March. The high expectation that the investors had during most of February started to fade as the Saudi stocks fell again yesterday after recovering 4.07 percent or 762.45 points on Tuesday. Over 1,000 points drop in the Industrial Index sent the Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) plunging 251.08 points to 19,251.57.

The market turnover declined to SR24.33 billion compared to SR34.69 billion on Tuesday.

According to Tadawul's Saudi Arabian Equity Market Report released yesterday, the TASI closed at the end of February at 19,502.65 points compared with 18,807.59 in January, showing an increase of 3.7 percent.

The index recorded an all-time high of 20,634.86 on Feb. 25 and 16.7 percent increase by the end of February.

Market capitalization reached SR2.91 trillion (776 billion) in February, up 6 percent from January. The total value of shares traded during the month reached SR828.43 billion (221 billion) posting an increase of 31 percent compared to January.

In February, the total number of shares traded reached 1.46 billion compared with 1.15 billion in January, reflecting an increase of 27 percent. The total number of transactions executed during February reached 9.57 million compared with 6.59 million in January with an increase of 45 percent.

The Tadawul report said that number of trading days during February was 24 days compared with 21 days in January. The report attributed the difference in days to Eid Al-Adha holiday.

Yanbu National Petrochemical Co (YANSAB), which has a paid up capital of SR5.6 billion with 112.5 million shares, started trading on Feb.20 offering 39,375 million shares at SR50 per share.

Yesterday, only the shares of YANSAB rose in the industrial sector, while shares of all other companies were in the red. The Industrial Index closed 1,253.17 points down to 45,035.27. Shares of the petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) fell 1.62 percent to SR1,704 and Sahara Petrochemical by 5 percent to SR589.

The Banking Index rose 612.33 points to 47,793.51 despite fall in share prices of Saudi Hollandi Bank, Arab National Bank, Riyad Bank and Bank AlJazira.

Samba Financial Group and Banque Saudi Fransi shares made hefty gains yesterday.

The cement sector was also down as shares of only two companies - Yamamah Cement and Yanbu Cement - rose while shares of all other companies edged lower.

In the services sector the lone gainer was Taibah Investment and Real Estate Co.

Saudi Electricity Co. shares dived 4.57 percent to SR209.

In the telecom sector, shares of Saudi Telecom Co. dropped 1.45 percent to SR1,088 while shares of Etihad Etisalat jumped 4.91 percent to SR727.

The insurance and agriculture shares were in the red yesterday.

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's yesterday announced daily index publication for each of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and it released a GCC Composite Index along with 3 new domestic indices for Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.

The move is in response to rapidly growing investment flows into the GCC region and increasing demand from local and international investors for indices that can serve both as performance benchmarks and as the basis for investable products. It marks the completion by Standard & Poor's, the leading provider of independent investment research, ratings and indices, of its GCC coverage in the S&P/IFCG family of Emerging Market Data Base Indices.

The GCC index achieved a total return of 114 percent in 2005, outperforming many emerging markets worldwide. This was due to the improvement of corporate transparency and disclosure in the region, and to the attraction of GCC markets of growing interest from regional and global investors. The total market capitalization of the six GCC member markets is now over 1 trillion.

S&P's Emerging Markets Data Base (EMDB) was the first equity index information source to focus on the Middle East. S&P indices have existed for Saudi Arabia since 1997 and for Bahrain and Oman since 1998. S&P/IFCG EMDB indices, created in 1975, are the oldest and most comprehensive measure of the world's emerging markets.

The GCC Composite enhances the EMDB line of indices, which are divided into two main families: S&P/IFCG (Global) indices, which measure the performance of the widest possible set of active stocks in a particular country; and S&P/IFCI (Investable) indices, which measure those S&P/IFCG companies that are liquid and available for foreign investment.

The market weightings in the GCC are as follows: Saudi Arabia 58.9 percent; UAE 16.8 percent; Kuwait 12.6 percent; Qatar 9.2 percent; Bahrain 1.4 percent; Oman 1.0 percent.


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