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Saudi Arabia to open up its huge stock market

Saudi Arabia has said foreign investors will soon be allowed access to its massive stock market. The planned deregulation could spur a massive influx of capital into some of the kingdom's biggest companies.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index soared to its highest level in seven years on Tuesday at 10,058.53 points on news that financial institutions from around the world would soon be able to buy and sell stocks on the Arab world's biggest exchange.

The kingdom's cabinet decided late Monday the kingdom would open its $531-billion (393-billion-euro) stock market to foreign investors sometime in the first half of next year.

The Riyadh-based Tadawul All Share Index has a

number of influential companies

listed, including one of the largest petrochemical groups in the world, Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

IMF's positive outlook

Shares in Saudi Basic hit a six-year high on the news, rising 9.2 percent to 126.25 riyal ($33.66). Other Tadawul-listed heavyweights include the mobile phone giant Etihad Etisalat and Al Rajhi Bank.

The planned deregulation also spurred the International Monetary Fund on Monday to raise its growth forecasts for Saudi Arabia from 4.1 to 4.6 percent.

cjc/hg (AP, Reuters)

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