Saudi Shares Little Changed After Federal Reserve Comments

Saudi Arabia’s stock index closed little changed on the first day of trading since the U.S. Federal Reserve said it was prepared to begin phasing out its economic stimulus program.

Declines in petrochemical stocks kept the market lower until the final hour of trading as finance and real estate shares rallied. Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co. matched the highest level in almost a year and Samba Financial Group closed at the most since June 8. Mobile Telecommunications Co. of Saudi Arabia, known as Zain Saudi Arabia, climbed to the most since June 12.

“Shares on the Saudi stock index were volatile today with negative pressure coming from the petrochemical sector,” said Turki Fadaak, head of research and consultancy at Albilad Investment Co. in Riyadh.

The Tadawul All-Share Index gained less than 0.1 percent to 7,527.36 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. The Arab world’s biggest bourse has gained 11 percent this year.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemical maker, known as Sabic, led laggers, dropping 0.8 percent to 92.25 riyals, the biggest drop in a week.

“The sell-off in global markets and commodities over the past week, driven by the Fed’s comments, is causing pressure on Sabic and Saudi petrochemicals,” Ankit Gupta, Dubai-based equity analyst and assistant vice president of research at NBK Capital, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We consider Sabic as a proxy to global risk trade.”

Stocks and Treasuries slid after Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said on June 19 the bank may end its program of quantitative easing that has fueled a rally in financial markets and helped keep the world’s largest economy expanding in the face of federal budget cuts, a slowdown in China and a recession in the euro area.

Dar Al Arkan climbed 3.4 percent to 10.55 riyals, while Samba shares increased 1 percent to 50.5 riyals. Zain rose 3 percent to 10.2 riyals.

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

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