RIYADH (AFP) – The Saudi stock market, the largest Arab bourse, began the week’s trading up on Saturday after shedding 15 percent of its value last week, as fears of uprisings spreading shook Arab financial markets.
The recovery came after Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said in a televised interview that the Saudi economy was in “great” shape and that he himself bought stocks last week.
The Tadawul All-Shares Index opened 0.37 percent up Saturday, after it had closed 3.9 percent down on Thursday, for the 13th consecutive session in the red.
In half an hour of trading the index had surged over three percent to 5,486.09 points.
TASI had dived 6.8 percent on Tuesday to a 20-month low amid a panic sell-off by investors concerned at unrest that has hit several Arab countries.
But Assaf told Al-Arabiya news channel, “The economic and financial situations in Saudi Arabia are great,” in an interview aired shortly before the opening of the stock market on Saturday.
He said that the recent rise in oil prices, again due to regional unrest concerns, will also strengthen the economy of the oil-rich kingdom, which sits on the world’s largest proven crude reserves.
Assaf revealed that the Saudi Public Pension Agency, and himself, had taken advantage of the dive in the stock market last week, buying shares at “tempting” prices.
“The Public Pension Agency indeed bought last week. The reason is simple: prices have become tempting,” he said.
“Based on my confidence in this country, I also took advantage and bought from my personal savings,” he added.
All Gulf markets fell last week, led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai, with Kuwait at its lowest in more than six years and the Dubai Financial Market Index hovering around a seven-year low.
The seven bourses by last week had lost $110 billion in market valuation since the start of the year.