Kuwaiti shares recover slightly on bank profits
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) closed the week Wednesday, January 24, up slightly on the back of positive annual results by the emirate's commercial banks and major firms, brokers said. The KSE index closed at 1,329.9 points, 0.6 percent higher than the previous week, 53.1 percent below its all-time high of November 1997, but just 1.35 percent down on the year.
"Annual profits of banks and many big firms were very encouraging. This boosted confidence and increased demand," broker Ahmad Mahmud of Al-Waseet, told AFP. "Dealers are also pleased with the government talk on reforms, and with the parliament's positive debate of the foreign investments law," he added.
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the emirate's largest bank, announced on Sunday record profits of $329 million in 2000, a 7.6 percent rise from the previous year. A week earlier, Kuwait Finance House, the only Islamic bank in Kuwait, announced a 10 percent increase in profits to $377 million. Other commercial banks improved their profits.
The recovery came just one week after the KSE dropped on January 14 to 1,318.2, its lowest level since November 1995. The value of average daily trading shot to $18.4 million, up from last week's $10 million and less than $5 million in the last few weeks of 2000. But Mahmud warned that the price of many listed firms is still less than book value. "This is a good opportunity for long-term investors," he said.
Since the beginning of 2001, the index has remained below 1,340 points, the lowest level it reached in the previous year. The emirate's bourse ended 2000 down 6.5 percent, in a tumultuous 12 months of trading that saw investor confidence hit rock-bottom because of a lack of economic reforms, political uncertainty and parliament-government wrangling.
Some 87 companies are listed on the KSE. The bourse's capitalization of more than $20 billion makes it the second largest in the Arab world but still almost three times smaller than the NCFEI index in Saudi Arabia.—(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)