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Sat 5 Mar 2011 01:24 PM

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Saudi shares make largest gain in more than two years

UPDATED: SABIC rises more than 9% following finance minister's economic report on kingdom

Saudi shares make largest gain in more than two years

Saudi Arabia's index made its largest

gain in more than two years, rebounding from Wednesday's

22-month low after the country's finance minister sought to

reassure nervous investors.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the Arab

world's largest listed company, climbed 9.1 percent, Al-Rajhi

Bank rose 7.6 percent and Samba Financial Group

jumped 9.8 percent.

Saudi Arabia's economy is in an "excellent" shape and a rise

in oil prices will boost the financial position of the world's

top crude exporter, its finance minister said. Oil hit a

29-month high on Friday.

The benchmark climbed 7.3 percent to 5,710 points, its

largest gain since Nov. 29, 2008.

It fell 15 percent last week

as panicking investors dumped shares on fears Saudi Arabia would

be the next Middle East country to be hit by unrest following

recent deadly protests in neighbouring Oman and Bahrain.

"There should be a healthy rebound as investors get back

into the market gradually," said Hesham Tuffaha, Bakheet

Investment Group head of research.

"It will take about two weeks for the market to get back to

the level of before the crash."

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