Saudi stocks rose to an all-time high in record volumes in the week ending yesterday, buoyed by gains by the two largest listed banks and optimism over first-quarter results. Shares in the Saudi-American Bank (SAMBA) Financial Group climbed 8.4 percent to SR444.50 [U.S.$118.50], while Al-Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation gained four percent to reach SR998.00 [$266.49]. Traders expect the largest Arab bourse to hold steady, except for a predicted technical drop next week when dividends are distributed by Saudi Telecom, which accounts for 21 percent of market capitalization. This week’s rise, moreover, was tempered by a 3.2 percent drop by blue-chip Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) to SR105.00 [$28.04].
The all-share index ended at 4,954.67 points, up 0.8 percent from 4,916.06 a week ago, and 11.7 percent higher this year after surging 76.5 percent in 2003 on healthy earnings and firm oil prices, a boon for the economy of the world’s largest crude exporter. Turnover climbed to an all-time weekly high of SR28.4 billion [$7.58 billion] from SR26.4 billion [$7.05 billion] the previous week. Advancers outnumbered decliners 35 to 33 while three stocks were unchanged. Blue-chip gainers included the Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company, the most active share with 10.1 percent of total turnover, which closed 10.3 percent higher at SR306.00 [$81.71]. Among blue-chip decliners, industrial giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the second most active stock with 9.6 percent of turnover, shed 0.4 percent to SR397.75 [$106.21].