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Saudi Stocks Rise to 6-Week High After Internet-Use Data

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian stocks rose to the highest level in six weeks as telecommunications companies rallied after a report showed Internet usage in the country increased this year.

The Tadawul All-Share Index increased 0.2 percent to 6,902.53, the highest since Nov. 10, at the close in Riyadh after declining as much as 0.6 percent in earlier trading. The benchmark gauge for the Arab world’s biggest bourse has gained 7.6 percent this year.

Saudi Telecom Co., the kingdom’s largest mobile-phone service provider, rose to the highest level since Oct. 20. Etihad Etisalat Co., the second-largest phone company, advanced the most in two weeks. Saudi Arabia had 15.2 million Internet users at the end of the third quarter, compared with 13.6 million at the end of 2011, the Communications and Information Technology Commission said in a quarterly statement today.

“This is a surprise move mainly supported by the telecom sector,” said Mohammed Al-Omran, financial analyst and president of the Gulf Center for Financial Consultancy in Riyadh. “The telecommunications report that came out gave a boost to the sector and subsequently the index.”

Mobile-phone users at the end of the quarter were 53.1 million, the regulator said.

Saudi Telecom gained 0.7 percent to 43.1 riyals, while Etihad Etisalat rose 1.7 percent to 76 riyals. Bank Albilad climbed 3.1 percent to 29.9 riyals, the highest level since Sept. 15.

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Deema Almashabi in Riyadh at dalmashabi@bloomberg.net

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

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