By Souhail Karam
UPDATE 1: Blue-chip share lead advance as index ends at highest mark since Nov 18.
Blue-chip stocks led Saudi Arabia's benchmark to close 4.59 percent higher as local investors snapped up bargains ahead of fourth-quarter earnings announcements.
The index closed at 5,023 points, its highest level since Nov. 18.
"This is the first trading day in the 2009 financial year so investors are deploying cash from their budgets to take positions ahead of the earnings," said Turki Fadak, a member of the semi-official Saudi Economic Association think tank.
Chemical stocks led gains among blue chips. Saudi Fertilizers Co soared 9.75 percent and its parent company Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) closed 9.22 percent higher.
Alinma Bank added 4.05 percent. All banks, except Samba Financial Group, ended higher.
"Investors think that losses incurred by Saudi banks from the global financial crisis may not be as bad as they were initially thought to be," Fadak added.
"But we may see some profit-taking as the picture becomes clearer when the earnings start coming through."