Saudi Arabia’s benchmark stock index dropped the most in more than a month amid speculation about the king’s health after he underwent a back surgery, which the government said was successful.
Al Rajhi Bank, the country’s biggest publicly traded lender, retreated to the lowest level since Oct. 14. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemicals maker by market value, dropped the most in almost two months. The benchmark Tadawul All Share Index slumped 1.5 percent, the most since Oct. 13, to 6,666.46 at the close in Riyadh. The measure earlier lost as much as 2 percent.
“Currently the rumor mill is recycling old stories about the king’s health,” Julian Bruce, the Dubai-based head of institutional trading at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, said by e-mail. “All completely unsubstantiated, but it seems to have been enough to cause sellers to engage.”
King Abdullah’s operation to “tighten a laxity at the conjoining cord in the upper back” was successful, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Nov. 18, citing a statement from the royal court. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has been left mostly unscathed by the so-called Arab Spring uprisings. The king allocated $130 billion in social spending in February and March last year amid uprisings that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Libya.
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was born in Riyadh in 1924, the 13th son of Abdul Aziz, according to the website of the Saudi Embassy in Washington. His exact date of birth, at a time when Saudis often didn’t have birth certificates, hasn’t been officially disclosed. Saudi authorities usually don’t comment on speculation about the royal family.
Al Rajhi dropped 1.4 percent to 68.25 riyals. Saudi Basic Industries, also known as Sabic, retreated 1.4 percent, the most since Sept. 24, to 88.75 riyals.