Kuwait dips to 7-year low; QE at 11-month high
DUBAI KUWAIT’S stock index fell to a seven-year low on Wednesday as foreign investors exited on political uncertainty in the Gulf Arab state, while other regional markets were mixed.
Heavyweight telecom operator Zain fell 1.1 percent, Commercial Bank of Kuwait shed 2.5 percent and Ahli United Bank dipped 1.2 percent.
The index slipped 0.5 percent, its largest one-day loss in six weeks, to end at its lowest close since August 2004 .
“Surprisingly, there was a strong exit from foreigners today on what little liquidity we have from them — they don’t like the instability,” said a Kuwait-based trader who asked not to be identified.
Kuwait’s ruler has called an early parliamentary election for Feb. 2, nearly two weeks after he dissolved the chamber after a long-running dispute with the cabinet that has paralysed politics in the oil-exporting country.
“We’re less than a month away from elections and the market will continue moving sideways - 20 points up or down,” the trader said.
In Qatar, the benchmark ticked up 0.1 percent to a fresh 11-month closing high on local buying interest.
Barwa Real Estate rose 1 percent, Qatar Gas Transport climbed 0.7 percent and Qatar National Bank gained 0.1 percent.
In the UAE, markets ended mixed with Dubai’s benchmark slipping 0.3 percent and Abu Dhabi’s index climbing 0.3 percent.
Emaar Properties shed 0.8 percent and logistics operator Aramex dipped 1.6 percent.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was the main support to the index, rising 2.5 percent.
“Abu Dhabi’s bank performance in 2011 was better than people expected and it’s a good buying opportunity at these levels,” said Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage Co.
“We might see some buying appetite for the banking sector but if we are talking about price movement, we have to see institutional funds coming into the market, which have been absent.” Saudi Arabia’s index eased 0.09 percent, down for a second session in five.
Petrochemical stocks were the main drag. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and National Industrialisation slipped 0.5 percent each.
Sentiment was downbeat after Advanced Petrochemical Company (APC) said it expected a fourth-quarter net profit of 91 million riyals ($27 million), a 2 percent increase over the same period of 2010.