Kuwaiti shares index dips in sluggish trading

Published November 30th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) closed the week Wednesday, November 29, down 0.55 percent, in the most sluggish trading in months on the back of political wrangling and a lack of reforms. 

 

The KSE index closed at 1,344.2 points, down 6.8 percent on the final trading day of 1999 and a massive 52.6 percent below its all-time record in November 1997. 

 

The value of average daily trading during the week, which coincided with the start of the Ramadan fasting month, dropped to just over $4 million from last week's $9 million. 

 

The average remains well below the $30 million in August. 

 

The oil-rich emirate's bourse has been on the decline since September and except for last week, the index has shed points in the past 10 weeks hitting a new five-year low on November 13 when it closed at 1,340.2 points. 

 

During November, the market dropped 2.33 percent. It lost 4.5 percent last month and market capitalization decreased 2.3 percent from $21.3 billion to just under $20.8 billion. 

 

Traders attributed the decline to the unclear fate of the Kuwaiti cabinet because one of its members, Housing Minister Adel al-Sebeih, could be axed by parliament next week. 

 

Sebeih was questioned on November 20 over alleged financial irregularities and taking decisions that would cut housing welfare for Kuwaiti citizens who enjoy a cradle-to-grave welfare system. 

 

A vote of no-confidence is due December 4 and analysts believe if Sebeih is voted out of office it would trigger the collapse of the government. 

 

Kuwaiti financial experts and businessmen called Saturday for new legislation to protect small traders and broaden the investor base to help revitalize the sagging KSE. 

 

Speaking at a symposium on KSE's future prospects, organized by National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the experts called for the establishment of an independent body with extensive powers to run the bourse. 

 

Some 87 companies are listed on the KSE, the second most capitalized bourse in the Arab world after the NCFEI in Saudi Arabia.— (AFP)  

 

© Agence France Presse 2000  

© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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