Saudi Arabia’s stock market is expected to see little impact from the death of the kingdom’s crown prince on Saturday, despite an intraday drop, as investors bank on a smooth succession, analysts said.
The Saudi index declined 2.5 percent during the session as rumors of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s death circulated on social media earlier in the session. The market recovered some ground to end 0.3 percent lower at 6,724.5 points, a 10-day low.
Analysts said the official confirmation of the news on state television helped allay potential market uncertainty.
“(The decline) is normal within an emerging market where people are impacted by rumors,” said Turki Fadaak, head of research at Al Bilad Investment.
Abdulhamid Al Amri, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, said the quick announcement “reflected the solidity of internal stability in the kingdom.”
International factors - a Greek election that could sow further eurozone uncertainty and the outcome of Egyptian elections - had dominated sentiment in Gulf Arab markets in recent trading sessions as wary investors cut positions. That tone is unlikely to be overtaken by Nayef’s death in Geneva.
The crown prince, believed to be 78, was next in line to the Saudi throne after being appointed just eight months ago.
“I don’t think he had enough time to leave his stamp. It won’t have a substantive impact in the short term,” said Mohammed Ali Yassin, former chief investment office at CAPM Investments in Abu Dhabi. “The only issue is of succession and if that happens within the next few days - which is expected - there should be little impact on the markets longer term.
“The issues are more political than economic.”
The king and a family council are expected to start work on the appointment of a new crown prince with Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz widely seen as the next most senior prince in the world’s top oil exporter.
Economically, the kingdom expanded at an officially estimated 6.8 percent in 2011, supported by high oil prices and lavish government spending.
The Saudi stock market, the largest in the Arab world, has been on a downtrend since hitting 2012 highs in early April. The TASI all-share index had gained 23.6 percent to April 3, buoyed partly by hopes the market will be opened to limited direct foreign ownership. That process is not seen completed this year.
The index will resume trading as scheduled on Sunday. The kingdom does not close to mark official mourning periods.