Saudi Arabian shares declined, led by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), the world's biggest chemicals maker by market value and Al Rajhi Bank.
The Tadawul All Share Index fell 0.7 per cent to 4,316.91 in Riyadh, increasing this year's drop to about 10 per cent. The measure lost more than half its value last year as oil prices dropped.
Sabic fell three per cent to SR35.8, the lowest close in more than five years. Al Rajhi Bank, the country's largest bank by market value, fell 1.1 per cent to SR45.1, the lowest in more than four years. Saudi Arabia's largest publicly traded companies, including Saudi Telecom, have suffered in the last six months as the global financial crisis ushered in the first simultaneous recession for six decades in the US, Japan and Germany.
Yanbu Cement Company dropped 10 per cent to 43.4 riyals, while Saudi British Bank, 40 per cent owned by HSBC Holdings Plc, dropped 1.8 per cent to 56 riyals.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Anaam International Holding Group has requested rights to resume normal trading in its shares after a year of restrictions, Riyadh-based business daily Al Eqtisadiah reported yesterday.
Anaam, whose share trading on the Saudi bourse was restricted to twice a week for a total time of one hour, was on the brink of bankruptcy more than two years ago, the paper reports.
Anaam said it has complied with the market regulator's conditions for the resumption of share trading, the paper reports, citing people familiar with the situation. Yanbu Cement said its shareholders have approved a SR4 ($1.07) a share dividend payout for 2008.
The overall dividend represents 40 per cent of the company's capital, the cement manufacturer said in a statement.
What remains of the 2008 net profit will be plowed back into reserves that are allocated for expansion projects, the statement said.
Yanbu Cement reported last January a 15 per cent year-on-year decline in it its 2008 full-year net profit to SR559.7 million. Its 2008 earnings per share fell to SR5.33.
The shareholders also authorised the company to contract the National Commercial Bank for credit facilities, Yanbu Cement said but it didn't disclose any figures.
Crude oil for April delivery traded at a five-week high
of $45.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday. Prices are up 7.4 per cent this month.