The Saudi stock market closed Wednesday at an all-time high, with the Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) showing 4,613.56 points, up from its closing 4,584.26 points on January 28, its last trading day before the nine-day closure for Eid Al-Adha. The rise was in part due to a 1.7 percent gain in the blue chip shares of the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) amid expectations of an announcement of high profits and dividends to shareholders. The TASI is now up 3.7 percent up since the beginning of the year, and the trading value for the past week reached SR 16.7 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion).
Over the past week, the shares of 42 companies have risen, 25 have seen their shares decline, and three are unchanged. Other blue chip gainers besides STC include the Saudi British Bank which rose 0.9 percent. The biggest losers were the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and the Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company (SAFCO), whose shares fell by 1.1 and 1.0 percent respectively.
The Kingdom has the largest capitalization of any Arab stock market with more than $ 142 billion, but operates only on an inter-bank basis. The Saudi bourse has been on the rise since March 2003, driven by strong oil prices that have boosted public revenues and cash flow, combining to lift investor confidence.