Bloomberg News

Saudi Shares Advance First Time in Four Days on New Economy Team

December 14, 2011

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian shares gained for the first time in four days after a new economy team was appointed to oversee a record spending plan aimed at reducing unemployment and reliance on crude exports.

Sahara Petrochemical Co., a Saudi chemicals maker, gained the most in a month, rising as high as 4.1 percent. Jabal Omar Development Co. had the highest close in three weeks after securing a government loan. The Tadawul All Share Index advanced 0.8 percent to 6,238.87 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. Oman’s MSM30 Index rose 1.2 percent and Qatar’s QE Index climbed 0.1 percent.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil, yesterday appointed Fahad al-Mubarak as central bank governor, replacing Muhammad al-Jasser, who was named economy and planning minister. Tawfiq al-Rabea was appointed trade and industry minister. The high-level changes follow the naming of Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz as heir to the throne in October.

The government “is serious about improving the economy and lowering unemployment rates,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities. Also, the “index dropped too much yesterday compared with other GCC markets.”

Saudi Arabia’s drive to create jobs comes amid a wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East, triggered in part by unemployment. King Abdullah announced a $130 billion spending plan in the first quarter and in August 2010 unveiled a $384 billion proposal to develop transportation, housing and education.

Jabal Omar Loan

The 149 companies in Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index trade at an average of 13.5 times estimated earnings, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with 12.35 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and 10.50 in the case of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Sahara rose 3.8 percent, the largest gain since Nov. 13, to 15.25 riyals. Oil for January climbed as much as 0.2 percent to $100.33 earlier today before trimming gains to trade at $99.12 a barrel. Gulf Arab oil exporters, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, supply about a fifth of the world’s oil.

Jabal Omar rose 1.7 percent to 11.95 riyals, the highest price since Nov. 21, after paring gains of as much as 3.4 percent. The Saudi property company said it signed an agreement with the finance ministry for a 3 billion-riyal ($800 million) loan.

Bahrain’s measure climbed 0.2 percent and the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index rose 0.15 percent. Dubai’s DFM General Index dropped 0.6 percent, Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index lost 0.2 percent, while Kuwait’s gauge was little changed.

--Editors: Ash Kumar, Alex Nicholson

To contact the reporter on this story: Mourad Haroutunian in Riyadh at mharoutunian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net; Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net


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