Saudi shares continue rise

Saudi Arabia's stocks broke key resistance levels amid speculation that the country's bourse will soon open up to direct foreign ownership.

Saudi Arabia's stock market will soon open up to foreigners. Bloomberg News
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Saudi shares surged yesterday amid speculation that the country's bourse, the Tadawul All-Share Index, would soon open up to foreign investors and as oil traded above US$106 a barrel.

Foreign investors at present can invest in Saudi stocks only through swap agreements and exchange traded funds.

On Tuesday, the market watchdog passed a regulation that investors using swap agreements will be named. The move was seen as a major boost for transparency.

The Capital Market Authority last month said it would allow companies from Gulf countries to seek a secondary listing on the Saudi bourse.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, the world's biggest petrochemicals maker, rose 1.2 per cent yesterday to 100.50 riyals. The index rose 0.9 per cent to 7,031.26, its highest level since September 2008.

"The index is breaking above the 6,900 level, which was the high before the Arab Spring unrest hit the region," said Marwan Shurrab, the chief trader at Gulfmena Investments in Dubai. "It's interesting that people are pouring their money into the bourse again."

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, oil for April delivery was up 11 cents to $106.36 a barrel by mid-afternoon Dubai time.

In the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index rose 0.3 per cent to 2,534.91 and the Dubai Financial Market General Index advanced 0.7 per cent to 1,608.92.

Elsewhere in the region: Kuwait's measure slipped 0.1 per cent to 6,088.50; Bahrain's rose 0.8 per cent to 1,154.69; Oman's inched up 0.1 per cent to 5,672.87; and Qatar's also advanced 0.1 per cent, to 8,692.50.

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