STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi closes slightly up after budget announced

1300 GMT - Saudi stocks closed slightly higher on Saturday after

the government announced a 2013 state budget which analysts said

was likely to support continued strong economic growth next

year.

The market declined early on in response to a drop in global

oil prices on Friday, but rebounded after the budget details

were released. The government plans to spend 820 billion riyals

($219 billion) in 2013, 19 percent higher than the 690 billion

riyals earmarked for 2012.

Analysts said actual spending in 2013 would probably exceed

the 853 billion riyals that the government actually spent this

year. The budget announcement was not a surprise, but it was

seen as mildly positive for domestic demand-related stocks.

Budget spending will focus on education, health and transport

and communications.

The all-share index gained 0.2 percent to 6,877

points, even though petrochemicals fell slightly in response to

the global picture, with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC)

down 0.3 percent.

0810 GMT - Saudi stocks are little changed in early trade

after opening slightly lower in response to the drop of oil

prices on Friday.

Oil prices settled lower on Friday after U.S. data showed a

sharp rise in gasoline inventories and as investors worried that

U.S. budget negotiators may not reach a deal in time to avert a

fiscal crisis that could erode oil demand.

The all-share index is up 0.1 percent to 6,876

points. Shares in petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries

(SABIC) drop 0.3 percent.

Immediate, minor resistance for the index lies around 6,900

points, where it peaked last week, with stronger resistance at

the early November peak of 6,961 points.

Some Saudi media reported that the 2013 state budget is

likely to be announced on Saturday and hopes that it will

include a rise in government spending are expected to continue

helping to support stocks.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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