Foreigners turn net buyers of Saudi stocks as shock of graft purge fades

Foreigners were net sellers of stocks for four straight weeks after authorities detained officials and businessmen in the purge

Foreign investors turned net buyers of Saudi Arabian shares in the last week, suggesting concern about the impact of a sweeping crackdown on corruption has faded, exchange data showed on Sunday.

Foreigners were net sellers of Saudi stocks for four straight weeks after authorities launched the purge in early November, detaining dozens of top officials and businessmen and freezing over 2,000 bank accounts.

In the last couple of weeks, however, the risk of damage to the economy has appeared to ease, with the number of frozen accounts falling and some suspects reaching settlements with the government. A purchasing managers’ survey showed most of the private sector operating as normal in November.

Foreign investors bought SAR718m ($191m) worth of stocks in the week through December 7 and sold SAR674m worth, resulting in SAR44m of net buying.

In the week to November 9, immediately after the crackdown was announced, there was net selling of SAR1.08bn worth of shares, and net selling decreased in every week after that.

The latest data also showed Saudi individual investors bought stocks worth SAR17.53bn last week and sold SAR9.21bn, resulting in net selling of SAR1.68bn, down from net sales of SAR2.19bn in the previous week.

Saudi institutional investors bought SAR2.83bn of stocks in the latest week and sold SAR1.31bn, for net buying of SAR1.52bn.