Saudi Shares Climb to Six-Month High on Fed’s Low-Rate Pledge

Saudi Arabian shares rose to a six-month high in the first trading day this week after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled it would keep interest rates low through at least late 2014.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemicals maker, jumped the most in more than seven weeks, while National Industrialization Co., known as Tasnee, gained more than 2 percent.

The Tadawul All Share Index rose 0.9 percent to 6,537.12 at the 3:30 p.m. close of trading in Riyadh, the gauge’s highest close since July 11. The 150-member measure has gained 1.3 percent in the past four days. More than three shares climbed for every one that dropped.

The Fed said Jan. 25 it sees “exceptionally low” interest rates continuing through 2014, having earlier pledged to refrain from raising borrowing costs until at least the middle of 2013. Policy makers are considering more bond purchases to boost growth, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index added 0.2 percent in New York yesterday, boosting its advance for the week to 2.2 percent.

Saudi Arabian stocks are “gaining momentum from Bernanke’s pledge,” said Turki Fadaak, head of research at Riyadh-based Albilad Investment Co.

Sabic contributed the most to the index’s rally, adding 2.5 percent, the largest increase since Dec. 5, to 94 riyals. The Riyadh-based company plans to construct a new unit in the fourth quarter to store petrochemicals in Jubail, al-Watan reported today, citing an unidentified source at the company. The new unit will increase the company’s petrochemical storage capacity to 18 million tons a year, the newspaper said.

Tasnee strengthened 2.4 percent to 39.20 riyals. Etihad Etisalat Co., which trades as Mobily, advanced 0.9 percent to 56.50 riyals, its highest price since February 2008, after the phone company’s board recommended distributing quarterly dividends in fiscal 2012.

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is the only Gulf Arab bourse that opens on Saturdays.

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