Shares in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, fell as crude declined on concern over demand from China and tension simmered on Iran’s naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Tadawul All Share Index lost less than 0.01 percent to 6,417.73 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh, after falling the most in more than two weeks. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, retreated 0.8 percent.
Oil fell 0.8 percent to close at $98.83 a barrel yesterday as Chinese manufacturing contracted for a second month in December, spurring concern that demand from the world’s second-largest crude-consuming country may slow. Iran last week threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping channel through which a sixth of the world’s is transported, if sanctions are imposed on its crude exports.
“With the lack of local news and activity in the market, some investors are booking profit and focusing on the geopolitical news in the region,” said Samer Darwiche, an equity analyst at Gulfmena Investment in Dubai. “You have also to factor in it’s New Year’s eve and activity is low.”
Saudi Basic, which accounts for 12 percent of the benchmark index, retreated to 96.25 riyals. Savola Group gained 1.4 percent to 28.7 riyals. The Saudi Arabian food producer said last week it was selling land in the kingdom and expanding in Egypt.
Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is the only Gulf Arab bourse open on Saturdays.