By Zahra Hankir
Saudi shares dropped for a second day on speculation this year’s rally was overdone amid concern Europe’s debt crisis will weigh on global economic growth and after Almarai Co. (ALMARAI) reported lower-than-expected earnings.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s largest petrochemicals maker known as Sabic, fell 0.9 percent. Almarai, Saudi Arabia’s largest food producer by market value, fell the most in more than a year after first-quarter profit fell below expectations. The Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) lost 0.4 percent to 7,862.51 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh, the lowest since March 31. The gauge has advanced 23 percent so far this year.
“The index had run up quite a bit and we are seeing some profit-taking,” said Asim Bukhtiar, an equity analyst at Riyad Capital. “The run up was partly in anticipation of quarterly numbers, Almarai’s were a little disappointing.”
Almarai reported a 2.9 percent increase in first-quarter profit to 242.1 million riyals ($65 million) as sales increased on expansion in the Persian Gulf. That fell short of the 278- million riyal median estimate of three analysts, according to data compiled on Bloomberg. The shares decreased 4.9 percent, the most since March 2011, to 68.25 riyals.
Emerging-market stocks fell last week after sluggish demand at Spain’s debt sale and slowing German factory output fueled concern Europe’s debt crisis is spreading. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the region’s economic outlook is “subject to downside risks.” Employers in the U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast in March, underscoring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s concern that recent gains may not be sustained without a pickup in growth.
“The unemployment numbers have fuelled fears of an economic slowdown, and that the global economic recovery is not as anticipated,” Bukhtiar said.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.5 percent last week, while Standard and Poor’s 500 Index retreated 0.7 percent. The U.S. market was closed yesterday for a holiday.
Sabic fell the most since March 28 to 108 riyals. Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is the only Gulf Arab bourse that is open on Saturdays.
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