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Iran Nuclear Talks ‘Constructive’ After 15-Month Halt

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian shares declined, led by banks and petrochemical companies, as the Arab world’s biggest bourse followed U.S. stocks lower amid intensified investor concerns over global economic growth.

The Tadawul All Share Index dropped 0.7 percent to 7,524.36, the lowest level since March 20, in Riyadh at the 3:30 p.m. close. The 152-member index has gained 17 percent this year.

Al-Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s largest by market value, lost 2.2 percent, and Samba Financial Group decreased by 1.8 percent. Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co., a unit of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., fell to the lowest level since March 20.

“Resurfacing European debt concerns and slowing economic growth in China are affecting international sentiment,” Asim Bukhtiar, head of research at Riyad Capital, said in response to e-mailed questions. “Some of this may impact Saudi market direction today, but first quarter earnings expectations will be top-of-mind.”

Saudi companies started reporting first-quarter financial results earlier this month. Al-Rajhi Bank and four other Saudi lenders posted first-quarter results that beat estimates as lending increased in the Arab world’s biggest economy.

U.S. Stocks Fall

U.S. stocks fell this week, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 to its first back-to-back weekly decline since November, after employers added fewer jobs than estimated and investor concern over global economic growth increased. U.S. employers added 120,000 jobs in March, less than the median economist forecast of 205,000 disclosed in a Bloomberg survey. A surge in Spanish and Italian bond yields has fueled concern Europe’s debt crisis is worsening, while China said its economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace since 2009.

“The international data published last week adversely affected the petrochemical sector due to fears about a slowing global economy,” Turki Fadaak, head of research at Riyadh-based Albilad Investment Co., said in response to e-mailed questions. “The petrochemical sector is most responsive to global data.”

Al-Rajhi Bank fell to 77.50 riyals, while Samba Financial declined to 53.75 riyals. Saudi Arabian Fertilizer dropped 4.9 percent to 183 riyals.

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Riyadh at mharoutunian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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