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Aramco shares up 1.6% in third consecutive day of gains


DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco <2222.SE> shares gained for a third consecutive day on Sunday, rising 1.63% to 37.4 Saudi riyal ($9.97), pushing the company's value back toward the $2 trillion level it topped last week.

The state-owned oil company listed 1.5% of its shares at 32 riyals on Riyadh's Tadawul exchange <.TASI> on Dec 11 in the world's largest initial public offering (IPO).

Initially valued at $1.7 trillion, the shares topped $2 trillion, a value long sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last Thursday.

The IPO is the centerpiece of the Saudi leader's plans for diversifying the economy away from its dependence on oil.

Additional demand, particularly from "passive" investors, is expected this week, as Aramco's shares will join the Tadawul index and global benchmarks such as MSCI.

Aramco is the world's largest and most profitable company, but its valuation faced scepticism among international investors as the IPO was marketed.

Analysts at Bernstein last week put its value at $1.36 trillion, citing corporate governance concerns due to the fact that the government owns 98.5% of the firm.

(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Jason Neely and Christina Fincher)

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