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Saudi shares dive after kingdom announces record deficit

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it posted a deficit of $98 billion in 2015 after a sharp decline in oil revenues
The Saudi government said it would raise prices on Tuesday (AFP)

Saudi shares dived at the start of trading on Tuesday a day after the oil-rich kingdom announced a record $98 billion deficit this year and said it was drastically cutting fuel subsidies.

The Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) fell by 3.1 percent minutes after opening to 6,777.05 points, close its lowest level this year.

Only the insurance sector rose slightly amid the losses, led by the key petrochemical sector, which shed 6.3 percent. The banking sector also lost 2.6 percent.

TASI and other Gulf bourses have witnessed sharp volatility throughout 2015 mainly due to the slump in oil prices that led to spending cuts by regional governments and hit corporate profits.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it posted a deficit of $98 billion (89 billion euros) in 2015 after a sharp decline in oil revenues.

The kingdom also projected a deficit of $87 billion for 2016, the third year in a row with a shortfall.

To counter the impact of sliding oil revenues, the world's top crude exporter said it was applying unprecedented cuts to public subsidies on fuel, power and water.

Other Gulf markets were also down on Tuesday.

Dubai dipped 0.4 percent, Abu Dhabi 0.27 percent, Qatar 1.1 percent and Kuwait 0.94 percent. The small exchanges of Oman and Bahrain fell 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

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