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Saudi index moves sideways after winning FTSE emerging market status

Saudi Arabia’s stock market moved sideways in early Thursday trade after index compiler FTSE Russell said it would upgrade Riyadh to emerging market status, a move expected to draw billions of dollars of fresh foreign money in the next two years. FTSE’s decision is extremely positive for the market in the long term, and is expected to be followed by a similar decision by rival index compiler MSCI in June. But it will only take effect in stages between March and December 2019.

Only then will passive funds linked to the index begin flowing in. Also, the Saudi market had already risen over 9 percent this year in anticipation of FTSE’s decision, leaving stocks vulnerable to moderate profit-taking, fund managers said.

The Saudi stock index edged down 0.1 percent in the first 45 minutes as top performers of recent weeks, which are expected to be major members of FTSE’s index, languished. Al Rajhi Bank was up 0.2 percent and Saudi Basic Industries was down 0.1 percent.

US stocks jump

Wall Street surged on Thursday, bringing an upbeat end to a tumultuous, holiday-shortened week as technology stocks rebounded, but the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted their biggest quarterly declines in more than two years.

The year started strong, but early gains evaporated as the markets entered a correction over interest rate jitters, fears of an escalating import tariff dispute between the United States and China, and a selloff in the tech sector.

Tech stocks reversed course on Thursday and the S&P 500 information technology index .SPLRCT closed up 2.2 percent after reaching a session high of 3.2 percent, helping push the S&P 500 up 1.4 percent, with the Dow and Nasdaq also rallying.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 254.69 points, or 1.07 percent, to close at 24,103.11, the S&P 500 gained 35.87 points, or 1.38 percent, to 2,640.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 114.22 points, or 1.64 percent, to 7,063.45.

Investors were unfazed by economic reports showing a slight increase in consumer spending and initial jobless claims dropping to a more than 45-year low.

Amazon.com closed up 1.1 percent, recovering from a 4.6 percent drop after US President Donald Trump criticized the online retailer via Twitter early Thursday, claiming without evidence that the company pays “little to no taxes to state & local governments.”

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.66-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers. Volume on US exchanges was 7.49 billion shares, compared to the 7.29 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

China shares barely moved

China stocks barely moved on Friday as gains in healthcare stocks were offset by losses in developers and banking shares.

The Shanghai Composite index was up 0.12 percent at 3,164.22, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was flat at 3,894.15, with its financial sector sub-index lower by 0.97 percent, the consumer staples sector up 0.2 percent, the real-estate index down 1.65 percent and healthcare sub-index up 2.27 percent.

The smaller Shenzhen index was up 0.91 percent and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.79 percent. Hong Kong’s financial markets are closed for the Easter holiday.

Financial shares on the mainland dropped 1 percent by the lunch break, after China’s new banking and insurance regulator said on Thursday it will deepen the reform and opening up of the banking and insurance systems and will crack down on financial risk.


Japan’s Nikkei grows

Japanese stocks rose on Friday as technology firms such as Tokyo Electron and Advantest jumped in sympathy with a rebound in their US counterparts, which were battered this week on concerns over possible government regulation.

The Nikkei rose 1.0 percent to 21,364.75 in midmorning trade. For the week, the index has gained 3.6 percent so far, though down 3.2 percent for the month and has tumbled 6.1 percent on a quarterly basis. Volume is predicted to be thin on Friday, as markets were shut for the long Easter weekend break in many of the world’s largest trading centers.

Recently-battered semiconductor equipment makers rebounded, with Tokyo Electron up 3.3 percent and Advantest Corp 1.8 percent higher. Silicon maker Sumco gained 2.3 percent. On the other hand, Japan Display Inc dropped more than 4 percent after the company said its board will discuss on Friday a plan to raise 50 billion yen ($470 million), including more than 30 billion yen through a third-party allotment of new shares. The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,711.66.

Taiwan shares higher

Taiwan stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Glass, Iron & Steel and Communication and Internet sectors led shares higher. At the close in Taiwan, the Taiwan Weighted added 0.56 percent.

The best performers of the session on the Taiwan Weighted were Yeong Guan Energy Technology Group Co Ltd, which rose 10.00 percent or 8.60 points to trade at 94.60 at the close. Meanwhile, CoAdna Holdings Inc added 9.99 percent or 4.40 points to end at 48.45 and Hsin Kuang Steel Co Ltd was up 9.96 percent or 3.35 points to 37.00 in late trade.

South Korea shares rise

Round-up of South Korean financial markets: South Korea’s KOSPI stock index rose on Friday, buoyed by gains on Wall Street overnight.

The Korean won was steady while bond yields fell. At 01:17 GMT, the KOSPI was up 18.42 points, or 0.76 percent, at 2,454.79. Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis shares fell as much as 6.3 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, on worries its parent group’s restructuring plan will disadvantage Mobis shareholders. Kumho Tire Co Inc’s shares jumped as much as 16.7 percent ahead of the tyre manufacturer’s decision whether to enter court receivership with financiers predicting a dramatic agreement between the company and its labour union.

The won was quoted at 1,065.3 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.06 percent firmer than its previous close at 1,065.9. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,064.8 per US dollar, down 0.26 percent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,048.5 per dollar. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.30 percent, after US stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.88 percent. The KOSPI is down around 1.3 percent so far this year, and up by 2.14 percent in the previous 30 days.

Energy, material shares push TSX higher

Canada’s main stock index rose on Thursday, boosted by strong gains in the energy and material sectors. Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources and Enbridge were among the top four boosts to the index, rising between 0.8 and 1.6 percent. Prices of Brent crude oil and of spot gold were flat, recovering from dips earlier in the session. Nine of the eleven sector groups were in positive territory.

Canada’s growth dwindled 0.1 percent last month, while analysts were expecting a rise of 0.1 percent after a revised 0.2 percent gain in December.

At 9:41 a.m. ET (1341 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 104.33 points, or 0.69 percent, to 15,274.27. Still, the index is on track for its biggest quarterly drop in more than two years.

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