Kuwait stocks cross 1,400-point barrier on more government reforms
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) index on Monday crossed the psychological 1,400-point barrier for the first time in seven weeks on the back of continued government reforms, analysts and brokers said.
The KSE index closed at 1,406.3 points, up 1.8 percent in the first three days of this week, but still down 2.5 percent on the end of 1999 and a staggering 50.4 percent since its all-time high in November 1997.
"Dealers feel that there are some indications that the government is serious in its reforms. It has issued regulations for foreign ownership and amended the Commercial Law Sunday," one analyst said.
"Confidence levels have certainly increased, but there is a lot more to be done and I fear that political disputes may block reforms," Sami al-Hasawi, deputy director of local investments at Kuwait Financial Center, told AFP.
The cabinet on Sunday approved a number of amendments to the 1960 Commercial Law, stipulating more transparency on the bourse and introducing penalties for leaking insider information.
"More transparency, foreign ownership and settlement of bad debts. It's all good news. This will boost the market," broker Ahmad Mahmud said.
Last week, the KSE rose 2.2 percent on the back of the government's nod to regulations of a bill allowing foreign ownership of Kuwaiti stocks.
The bill allows foreign investors and expatriates living in Kuwait to own up to 100 percent of the stock of Kuwaiti companies listed on the stock exchange other than banks, where ownership will be limited to 49 percent.
Ownership in banks could still exceed that percentage if approval is granted by the cabinet on the recommendation of the central bank.
Some 87 companies with market capitalization of about 20 billion dollars are listed on the KSE, the second largest bourse in the Arab world after the NCFEI in Saudi Arabia.
@Agence France Presse
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)