Saudi stocks boosted by Binladin progress

The Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh where a number of businessmen have been held in a crackdown on corruption. (Reuters)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Saudi stocks boosted by Binladin progress

DUBAI: Signs of progress toward settling cases in Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption boosted its stock market on Sunday.
The Saudi index far outperformed the rest of the region as it rose 1.4 percent to 7,440 points in active trade, rising above last September’s peak of 7,429 points.
Dozens of Saudi princes, officials and top businessmen — including owners of major stakes in some firms — were detained as part of the crackdown in early November. The market’s initial panic has faded, but investors are still concerned about the fate of some of the companies involved.
On Saturday, family-owned construction giant Saudi Binladin Group, which has seen its chairman and several other members of the Bin Laden family detained, said some of its shareholders might transfer part of their holdings to the state in a settlement with authorities.
The announcement, which confirmed an earlier Reuters report, boosted banking shares on Sunday with all 12 listed banks rising. Saudi British Bank jumped 4.6 percent.
A Saudi banker said the Binladin news appeared positive for the sector in the short term because state ownership might help the recovery of financially troubled Binladin, ensuring that payments to its bank creditors continued.
However, the banker added that it remained unclear whether banks would benefit in the long term, as restructuring Binladin could also involve a restructuring of its debt or more pressure on banks to make provisions or write off some debt.


Greece beats its budget target for 3rd year, debt edges down

Updated 53 min 40 sec ago
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Greece beats its budget target for 3rd year, debt edges down

ATHENS, Greece: Greece has beaten its bailout budget targets for a third successive year and eased its massive debt burden by a fraction as the country prepares to exit its international rescue program in four months.
The country’s independent statistics agency on Monday reported long-awaited data for 2017 that will affect ongoing negotiations between Athens and creditors on the terms of Greece’s exit.
The agency reported that the 2017 primary budget surplus — the balance before debt repayment is included— stood at 4 percent, while the national debt stood at 178.6 percent of gross domestic product, down from 180.8 the previous year.
Economic output was 177.7 billion euros ($218 billion), confirming a return to growth, but still almost a billion euros lower that annual output in 2014.