The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) soared 3.3 percent to close the week Wednesday at a five-month high on the back of renewed investor optimism in long-awaited economic reforms and increased liquidity in the market. The KSE index rose 45.8 points to close at 1,426.4, the highest level since October. The index was up 5.8 percent on the year but still 49.7 percent down on its all-time high of November 1997.
On Saturday, the index rallied past the 1,400-point psychological barrier for the first time since October 21.
Reports that the state-owned conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp. planned to pump around $115 million into the emirate's bourse boosted investor confidence, brokers said. Mutual funds have also been very active, pumping fresh funds into the sagging bourse.
Trading has been active throughout the week with the value of average daily trading reaching $55 million, the highest in several months. The bourse's capitalization has risen sharply over past weeks to just under $23 billion, mainly on the back of an increase in the price of blue chips shares, Bayan Investment Co. said.
Dealers are optimistic about the approval by parliament on Tuesday of the foreign investment bill which opens the oil-rich emirate for foreign investors, brokers said. The bill stipulates major incentives for foreign investors, including tax holidays and whole ownership of companies.
A new cabinet was formed in Kuwait last month with a new liberal finance minister, Yussef al-Ibrahim, who is expected to forge ahead with economic reforms. Some 87 companies are listed on the KSE. The bourse's capitalization makes it the second largest in the Arab world after the NCFEI index in Saudi Arabia. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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