DUBAI: Kuwait's bourse resumed its rally and trading value surged to a 44-month high yesterday, backed by investors' sense that the economic and political environment for the country is improving. Most other regional markets rose.
The Kuwaiti index added 0.6 percent, nearing a 43-month peak hit earlier this week; it is up 30.9 percent this year. Total turnover rose to 169 million dinars ($ 594.3 million), the highest daily figure since September 2009, according to bourse data.
That figure outstripped combined trading on all other Gulf bourses on Thursday; Saudi Arabia, the region's largest market, is closed for the weekend.
"It's clear there is money coming in from outside of Kuwait - trading values are supportive of new foreign investors," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage services at Global Investment House.
"The new levels in the market indicate new players - portfolios from abroad and other government-related portfolios because of the economic gain."
Kuwaiti companies, led by banks which represent more than 50 percent of market value, reported strong fourth-quarter earnings, helped by a recovery in stock prices. Stocks are usually held as collateral against loans.
Although underlying political and social tensions in Kuwait have not disappeared, last year's vicious conflict between the cabinet and parliament has quieted down, allowing more economic policy-making to occur. The finance minister said last month that the government would spend $ 15.8-$ 17.5 billion on development projects in the next 12 months.
Commercial Bank of Kuwait ended flat yesterday but accounted for more than half of total turnover.
In the United Arab Emirates, heavyweight Dubai lender Emirates NBD led the rally in the emirate's benchmark, which advanced 0.7 percent to a fresh 42-month high.
ENBD, the third-largest stock by market value, rose 4.3 percent to its highest close since November 2008. The lender is up 89 percent year-to-date, making it the index's best performer.
A top official at state-owned investment firm Dubai Group yesterday announced plans to secure a final agreement within weeks on its $ 10 billion debt restructuring. ENBD is one of the biggest creditors of Dubai Group.
"Dubai debt has performed exceptionally well in the last 15 months and the restructuring approval will be another factor in continuing that trend," said Abdul Kadir Hussain, chief executive and fund manager at Mashreq Capital.
"We’ve had an impressive rally in equities this year already, and a lot of that has been a catch-up in the rally on debt and reduction in credit risk. You'll see it continue to rise but not at the same pace as before."
Abu Dhabi's index climbed 0.8 percent. The index is back at November 2008 levels but still 34 percent below its peak in June of the same year.
Elsewhere, Qatar's bourse slipped 0.1 percent to 8,848 points, easing off Wednesday's 13-month high. It faces major technical resistance between 8,875 and 8,910, its peaks in early 2012.
Oman's benchmark gained 0.4 percent, while Egypt's main index moved little.
Reproduced with permission from Arab News