Saudi may react to surprise CMA chairman change

Largest Arab economy mulling allowing foreigners to invest on stock market directly

Saudi Arabia's bourse may react on Wednesday to a surprise change of the Capital Market Authority chairman with local sentiment dictating direction in the retail-dominated market.

Saudi King Abdullah replaced Abdulrahman al-Tuweijri with Mohammed bin Abdulmalik Al al-Sheikh in a royal decree late on Tuesday. Al Sheikh was previously the executive director of the World Bank.

The largest Arab economy is considering allowing foreigners to invest on the stock market directly, rather than under a swap system which is now in place.

New changes in regulations are underway in what analysts say may be preparation for allowing direct foreign investors on the Saudi exchange.

In Egypt, the foreign reserves fell below US$15bn in January, a level the government says will cover just three months of imports, after being run down trying to defend the Egyptian pound.

Egyptians have been net sellers in recent sessions as the gloomy political backdrop weighed, but strong interest from foreign buyers helped buoy the market. Cairo's index on Tuesday closed at its highest level since Jan. 9.

Elsewhere, UAE firms are in focus amid earnings season. Dubai's Deyaar Development may see some support after reporting a marginal increase in full year profit.

This was partly due to booking gains from deliveries of long-pending commercial and residential properties in the emirate.

In more news, Abu Dhabi National Energy said it made a profit of 640 million dirhams in 2012.

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