DUBAI/LONDON: The Saudi stock market was the best performing in the region on Sunday, in the first day of trading after the Eid holiday.
The share index shot up by 1.4 percent, boosted by petrochemical firms Saudi Basic Industries and Saudi Kayan.
Investor sentiment has also been buoyed by news this year that the market, known as Tadawul, will be given “emerging market” status — which will mean billions of dollars of foreign money flooding into Saudi shares.
Of all the companies traded in Riyadh, 146 had share-price increases while only 23 fell.
The performance of the Tadwul far outpaced other Gulf markets, where there was subdued trading and some losses.
Dubai’s index gained 0.4 percent, and the bank Emirates NBD — which had been sliding because of its exposure to Turkey through an acquisition — rebounded, with its share price closing 2.0 percent.
Qatar’s index closed 0.03 percent lower, with its most heavily traded stock — real estate company Ezdan — sinking 3.3 percent.
Share indexes in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain rose by a fraction of a percent, while those in Kuwait, Oman and Egypt edged down.
The market has been buoyed this year by inflows of foreign funds in anticipation of Riyadh joining emerging market indexes next year. Recent exchange data indicates those inflows have slowed but not halted as stock valuations have risen.
Petrochemical makers were particularly strong after the Brent oil price rebounded above $75 a barrel last week. The top petrochemical firm, Saudi Basic Industries, added 1.8 percent and Saudi Kayan rose 3.3 percent.
Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance, which had been trading near 20-month lows, surged 2.5 percent after saying state utility National Water Co. had engaged it to provide health insurance services to its employees for a year, a contract worth SR104.5 million ($27.9 million).
Other regional stock markets were much more subdued, even though the MSCI emerging market index climbed 2.7 percent last week as Turkish markets stabilized after plunging because of the country’s currency crisis.
Dubai’s index gained 0.4 percent as top bank Emirates NBD, which had been sliding because of its exposure to Turkey through an acquisition currently underway, rebounded for a second straight trading day, adding 2 percent.
In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.5 percent after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank jumped in the final minutes of trade to close 2.3 percent higher. United Arab Bank soared 13.2 percent but trading volume was very low.