Saudi Stocks Edge up As Investors Hold Back on Volatile Oil Market
The Saudi stock exchange, the biggest in the Arab world, edged up 0.5 percent on the week to Thursday, as investors remained cautious of the volatility in the oil market, a financial consultancy said.
The general index of the National Center for Financial and Economic Information (NCFEI) closed at 2,361.77 points against 2,350.75 a week earlier, according to Bakheet Financial Advisors.
"The Saudi stock market moved very cautiously in a narrow band with low turnover where investors kept a close eye on the end result of the current international scene of oil prices," Bakheet said.
"Various political moves are expected to calm overheated prices on a backdrop of US 'options' of using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to put a ceiling on prices," the Riyadh-based consultants said.
Prices have spiked levels not seen since the 1991 Gulf war over the past weeks.
On Thursday morning in London, a barrel of benchmark North Sea Brent crude for November delivery was trading at 32.92 dollars a barrel, against 33.55 dollars at the opening and 33.74 dollars at the close on Wednesday.
Amongst the blue chips, Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co. (SAFCO) and Arab National Bank were the best performers, up 7.8 and 3.2 percent respectively, while Saudi British Bank fell 0.8 percent.
Trading value reached 1.75 billion riyals (466.8 million dollars), up slightly from last week's figure of 1.6 billion riyals (439.7 million dollars). Stock prices of 32 companies were up, 23 were down, five were unchanged and 14 did not trade.
The Saudi bourse, which has a market capitalization of 60 billion dollars, had its best performance for eight years in 1999, with the NCFEI moving forward 43.6 percent, due mainly to the increase in crude oil prices and economic reforms launched by the kingdom -- RIYADH(AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)