Kuwait stock index sinks 3pc before protest
Kuwait, October 21, 2012
Kuwait's main stock index tumbled 3 percent in morning trade on Sunday as investors dumped stocks ahead of a major demonstration planned by political opposition figures later in the day.
The index sank to 5,735 points, near an eight-year low of 5,661 points hit in August. Traders said small-capital stocks favoured by retail investors were hardest hit, with Abyaar Real Estate down 5.8 percent.
Blue chips held up relatively well, partly because of speculation that government-linked funds might step in to try to support the market and expectations that their buying would focus on blue chips. Kuwait Finance House was down 2.6 percent.
Before the latest flare-up of Kuwait's long-running political crisis, the market had come off its eight-year low amid talk that government-linked funds were supporting it, as they have done during some periods of weakness in the past.
Last week the government ordered elections to be held on December 1 and decided to amended the election law to allow each voter to choose only one candidate instead of four.
The opposition, including Islamists, liberals and tribal figures who won a majority in the 50-seat parliament in the last election in February, rejected the changes and called for a protest march on Sunday.
Opposition rhetoric has become increasingly confrontational in recent days and included criticism of the emir, who the constitution says is "immune and inviolable". Authorities arrested two opposition politicians on Thursday and interrogated a third after such criticism. - Reuters