TASI fell into its lowest levels since the beginning of the year
The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) fell 1.5 percent to 6,177.25 - its lowest finish since Jan. 3. with losses seen across all sectors, ranging from 0.37 percent in the Agriculture & Food Industries to a loss of 3.50 percent in the Petrochemical Industries sector. Overall market breadth was also negative, with 117 decliners and only 18 advancers recording an AD ratio of 0.15, the Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its daily market commentary.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) slumped to a 15-week low on Monday as fears China would move to slow its economy spurred investors to dump stocks of petrochemicals firms, which have considerable exports to China.
SABIC dropped 3.1 percent to its lowest close since Feb. 10, Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co. plunged 6.2 percent and Yanbu National Petrochemical Co.'s (Yansab) lost 6.1 percent. SABIC shares closed at SR85.25.
"The whole world has been depending on China for growth and it is trying to soft-land its economy," said Saleh Al-Onazi, vice-president of principal investment at Swicorp in Riyadh.
"Until there is stability in oil prices and global markets, together with some positive catalysts, expect the Saudi market to remain depressed," said a Riyadh-based analyst who asked not to be identified.
"Petrochemicals are cyclical and very dependent on spot and future oil prices. We're seeing a shift toward defensive sectors like agriculture, utilities and retail."
"The visibility investors were paying a premium for - the local economic story and rising oil prices - is now opaque," said the analyst. "This is causing a lot of people to get out of the market and wait for things to calm down globally."
Most regional markets opened higher, as did stocks in Europe, but the China comments and fresh fears about the impact of the euro zone crisis helped reverse these gains.