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Saudi Arabian Shares Drop Most in Two Weeks Led by Saudi Basic

Shares in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, declined the most in more than two weeks before the start of the earnings season later this month.

The country’s benchmark stock index, the Tadawul All Share Index, lost 0.5 percent, the most since Dec. 13, to 6,386.04 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. The measure declined 3.1 percent in 2011, it’s first drop since 2008. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, fell for a second day. Banque Saudi Fransi, a lender part-owned by Credit Agricole SA, retreated 0.7 percent.

“The Tadawul is expected to trade in a tight range over the next two days with no clear lead locally,” said Samer Darwiche, an equity analyst at Gulfmena Investment in Dubai. “Investors are waiting for fourth-quarter announcements” and there is a lack of global catalysts as international markets are closed for the New Year’s holiday.

The kingdom’s gauge declined less than 0.1 percent yesterday. Saudi Basic may report a 35 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit on Jan. 18, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Banque Saudi Fransi may announce results on Jan. 11. EFG-Hermes Holdings SAE expects net income at the bank of 781 million riyals ($208 million) after 709 million riyals in the year-earlier period, according to data on Bloomberg.

Saudi Basic, which has the heaviest weighting on the index, dropped 0.5 percent to 95.75 riyals. Banque Saudi Fransi declined to 41.8 riyals.

Oman’s benchmark stock index, the only other Arab market tracked by Bloomberg that is open today, gained 0.2 percent.

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