x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Petrochemicals lead Saudi index up

Saudi shares lifted by petrochemicals sector after an oil report showed fuel consumption increased in April.

Petrochemical and agricultural companies lifted Saudi shares to a one-week high yesterday after a US oil report showed fuel consumption increased last month.

"The petrochemical sector is outperforming the index," said Hisham Tuffaha, the head of asset management at Bakheet Investment in Riyadh.

"The momentum is largely driven by the fact that oil prices have shown some stability after declining significantly in the last two weeks."

Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic), the world's biggest petrochemicals maker, and Savola Azizia, the country's largest food producer, bolstered the gains.

Oil futures for delivery next month rose 1.1 per cent to settle at $99.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the American Petroleum Institute reported fuel consumption increased last month as economic growth supported demand for diesel.

Saudi Arabia holds one fifth of the world's proven oil reserves.

The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index yesterday gained 0.6 per cent to 6,731.24. Seven stocks rose for every one that dropped.

Sabic gained 0.9 per cent to 108 riyals a share. Savola rose 1.4 per cent to 27.50 riyals. The food producer was given a "neutral" rating at HSBC.

National Industrialization rose to its highest price in more than three years, boosted by Credit Suisse's recent decision to start coverage of the stock with a price target of 55 riyals. Shares advanced 4.9 per cent to 40.70 riyals.

Other petrochemical stocks made decent gains: Advanced Petrochemicals rose 3.1 per cent to 32.40 riyals; Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical gained 2.1 per cent to 28.20 riyals; Methanol Chemicals added 2.8 per cent to 14.30 riyals; and Sahara Petrochemical advanced 2.3 per cent to 24.05 riyals.