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Saudi stock investors slow down year-end rally

Despite oil prices hitting $90 per barrel for the first time since Q3 2008, the Tadawul market added just 0.06% to reach 6,609.53 points. Nevertheless energy and utilities shares were outperforming. Saudi Electricity surged 1.43% to close at a two-month high SRR4.20. Commenting on the Kingdom's budget for 2011, Kuwait's Global Investment House said in an analysis today, that "the Saudi government continues to show its commitment towards enhanced public spending with budgeted government expenditure showing an annual increase of 7.4% to reach SR580bn ($154.7bn), and deficit of SR40bn ($10.7bn) in 2011." The study adds that "the oil revenues for Saudi Arabia contribute more than 85% to the government revenues and thus relatively higher oil prices and production levels in 2010 supported the revenues. In the challenging global economic environment, Saudi Arabia's generous government spending and various initiatives facilitated its economic expansion. KSA is estimated to record real GDP growth of 3.8% and nominal GDP growth of 16.6% in 2010. We forecast the economic expansion in KSA to record real GDP growth in the range of 4.0% to 4.5% in 2011." Year-to-date, the Tadawul market posted among the GCC countries the second highest rate of return of 7.97% after the exchange in Qatar which gained 24.41%.