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Wed 21 Dec 2016 07:51 PM

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Saudi stock market rises on eve of gov't budget announcement

Gulf kingdom's bourse climbs 0.4% although trading volume shrank to lowest level in two months

Saudi stock market rises on eve of gov't budget announcement

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Wednesday on the eve of the government's release of its 2017 budget, and Egypt's extended a bull run fuelled by foreign money and last month's float of the Egyptian pound.

The Saudi stock index climbed 0.4 percent, though trading volume shrank to its lowest level in two months as many investors became cautious before the budget announcement.

Sources familiar with budget planning told Reuters the government would reveal substantial progress in cutting the budget deficit from a record high in 2015, and that state spending would be raised to support economic growth. Domestic energy prices are expected to be increased to ease the government's subsidy burden.

Arabian Pipes jumped 3.7 percent after saying it won a 72 million riyal ($19.2 million) order to supply oil giant Saudi Aramco, and Saudi Steel Pipes added 5.5 percent after reporting a similar order.

Arab National Bank fell 0.9 percent after proposing a cash dividend of 0.45 riyal per share for the second half of 2016, lower than last year. Alinma Bank edged up 0.3 percent after keeping its 2016 dividend unchanged.

In Dubai, the index also rose 0.4 percent in thin trade as real estate blue chip Emaar Properties added 0.6 percent.

A 2.6 percent drop in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank pulled Abu Dhabi's index down 0.3 percent while Qatar's index was little changed.

Cairo's index, which surged 3.4 percent on Tuesday to a record high, climbed a further 1.8 percent in heavy volume. Foreign investors remained net buyers of stocks by a small margin, bourse data showed.

Orascom Telecom, beaten down in recent weeks by news of the departure of Naguib Sawiris as managing director, gained 7.1 percent after saying it sold its unit Middle East and North Africa Co Submarine Cable Systems for $90 million to an Indian company.

Proceeds are to be used to invest in the financial, real estate and logistics sectors, which the government is targeting for expansion under an economic reform programme . Orascom was the market's most heavily traded stock on Wednesday.

Palm Hills Development climbed 2.2 percent after saying it had agreed with Sarwa Capital, Arab African International Bank and Banque Misr to launch a securitised bond based on its receivables.

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