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French Version

Business Scene

JORDAN (Star) - * Share prices at the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) increased 2 percent in January over December, closing the month at 176 points. Trade volume at the ASE in January was JD 107 million, an increase of JD 28 million in January 2001.

Shareholding companies began the year by purchasing 10 percent of their shares in the stock market through ASE dealings. Sources noted more developments are underway in the financial market. More high-tech and additional laws are scheduled to be introduced.

* Just 10 companies made up the bulk of the daily trading volume at the ASE last month. JD 40 million shares changed hands in these companies, comprising 66.1% of January's overall volume. The Arab Bank came first with JD 11.2 million, followed by the Jordan Steel Co with JD 11.5 million. The International Tobacco and Cigarettes Co came third with JD 5 million.

* The Arab Bank Group's profits for 2001 are expected to be more than $250 million. Bank sources said the Group's fiscal budget is also expected to increase to $29 billion, this including assets valued at $22 billion. The Group succeeded last year in overcoming the consequences of the 11 September attacks on the US and extended its operations worldwide by providing new services and potential investments. The Group is represented in more than 30 countries through 300 offices.

* Revenues from privatization in Jordan hit JD 547 million through the past five years. Jordan Telecom, Royal Jordanian and the Jordan Cement Factories Co have primarily generated this amount. As a result up to JD 400 million in investments are taking place, a development expected to grow by 10 percent in the next two years. Most of the investments went to tourism, telecommunications and public transport. About JD 206 million of the aforementioned revenues were used in developing health, housing and water projects. The government is allocating JD 100 million this year for its socio-economic transformation program.

* The government is working on a JD 15 million-plan to construct a new building for its ministries. These will replace the current leased ones, currently forcing the government to pay JD 13 million annually. This is a joint plan between the Ministries of Finance and Housing.

* Jordanian exports to Palestine declined last year by 19 percent to $22 million. This was one of the results of unrelenting Israeli aggression on the Palestinians and Israel's continuing closure of Palestinian territories. In the past Jordan's exports to the Palestinian territories hit $30 million.

* Jordanian Ports Corp increased its earnings by 4.4 percent last year to JD 47 million. In 2001 the figure was around JD 44 million. The corporation is currently developing its facilities in Aqaba, where some 60 percent of Jordan's exports and imports are being held. The corporation is also enhancing its business there by reducing fees and providing new services.

* Cement wholesalers lost JD 20 million in trade over the past three years. This is in addition to the JD 10 million debt due local banks. The losses are part of unfortunate speculations made on cement prices in recent years. Businessmen are complaining the Jordan Cement Factories Co is refusing to pay back tariffs to them that they already made for transporting cement cargo. They also asked the government to exempt them from paying fees for two years to support their businesses.

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