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Saudi stocks decline to 7-week low.

Byline: Arab News

JEDDAH/DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's index slumped to its lowest finish for seven weeks as most Gulf Arab markets fell on weakening oil prices and worries over banks' exposure to two troubled Saudi conglomerates.

The market saw a downward pressure with very weak liquidity yesterday. Only 6 sectors made gains, with the Media and Publishing sector leading with 1.40 percent gain. On the losses front, 9 sectors posted losses ranging from 0.11 percent for Multi-Investment to 1.55 percent for Agriculture & Food Industries. Market breadth was negative, with 45 advancers and 74 decliners registering an AD ratio of 0.60, the Jeddah-based Financial Transaction House (FTH) said.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) closed 0.58 percent down at 5,708.67 yesterday.

By the close, the market has managed to trim intraday losses of 130 points to only slightly over 33 points. Liquidity came at the lowest level since June 9 which could have positive interpretations as an absence of panic selling among market players. Technically, yesterday was the second day of testing a level below the lower Bollinger Bands and where the close came below the uptrend line. For the coming days more weakness or sideways moves is more likely, the FTH said in its daily market commentary.

With few positive catalysts, investors are closing positions ahead of second quarter results, analysts said. The Kuwait benchmark fell 2.1 percent, its largest one-day decline since early February, Egypt slumped to a June low and Abu Dhabi and Bahrain lost 0.2 and 0.3 percent respectively.

Qatar rose 1.3 percent and Dubai climbed 0.5 percent after each suffering double-digit declines over the previous week, while Oman hit a six-month high as fund managers boosted small-cap stocks ahead of changes to Muscat's index weightings.

But the broader trend remains down and analysts forecast further declines this week.

"In terms of month-on-month performance, the markets have fallen in June for the previous three years and so the recent falls can be seen as part of a summer lull," said Ali Khan, managing director and head of brokerage at Arqaam Capital.

Oil fell to a two-week low of $68 a barrel yesterday, sapping sentiment in the world's top oil exporting region.

Saudi and Kuwait banks stocks slumped yesterday. Investor caution is also rising as the second quarter earnings season nears.

Dubai's index ended a five-session losing streak, but these gains are likely to be temporary.

"Dubai's close looked like window dressing and I expect weakness to continue tomorrow (Tuesday) to drag the market lower- today's (yesterday's) rally wasn't enough to believe the market has turned the corner," said Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading.

Oman's index rose 1.6 percent to 5,814 points, its highest close since Dec. 21, ahead of the introduction of new weightings that will increase the prominence of smaller-cap stocks and reduce the influence of the bluechips.

"There was big buying by asset managers, with the main gainers those stocks that will see the biggest increases in their index weightings," said Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.

The benchmark index in Egypt fell 3.4 percent to 5,864 points, its lowest close this month.

The Dubai index rose 0.5 percent to 1,953 points and the Abu Dhabi index fell 0.2 percent to 2,745 points.

The Qatari index climbed 1.3 percent to 6,557 points and the Oman index rose 1.6 percent to 5,815 points.

The Kuwaiti index fell 2.1 percent to 8,055 points.

Bahrain's main index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,624 points.

-- With input from agencies

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jun 23, 2009
Words:626
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