Saudi stocks edge up after settlements in corruption probe

The Saudi stock index climbed 0.3 per cent in the first half-hour of Wednesday to 6,985 points

Saudi Arabia’s stock market edged up in early trade on Wednesday after news that senior prince Miteb bin Abdullah had been freed after reaching a settlement agreement with investigators in the country’s corruption probe by paying more than $1bn.

Apart from Miteb, the first senior figure confirmed to have been released among about 200 people detained in the probe, at least three other people allegedly involved in corruption cases have finalised settlement agreements, a Saudi official told Reuters.

The news may indicate Saudi authorities can soon wind down parts of the probe, reducing the risk of disruption to the economy through the freezing of bank accounts, and easing the danger that companies linked to detainees could be affected.

The Saudi stock index climbed 0.3 per cent in the first half-hour to 6,985 points, nearing major technical resistance around 7,000 points, a level which has capped the market since mid-October and which roughly coincides with the 200-day average.

Nine of the 10 most heavily traded stocks gained with builder Khodari adding 1.9 per cent after saying it had renewed a SAR94m ($25m) Islamic credit facility with Gulf International Bank.

Al Babtain Power gained 2.8 per cent after saying it would distribute a cash dividend of SAR0.5 per share for the third quarter of 2017.

By contrast, Dubai’s index slipped 0.6 per cent. The most heavily traded stock, builder Drake & Scull, surged 3.3 per cent; it has been strong since Monday, when it announce that its shares had been included in MSCI’s GCC index.

But blue chip Emaar Properties fell 1.3 per cent. It has been soft for several weeks because of a slump in Dubai’s real estate market and a weak stock market debut by its local development unit, Emaar Development.

Abu Dhabi’s index climbed 0.4 per cent because of a 3.1 per cent jump by telecommunications firm Etisalat.