x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Investors protest outside Kuwaiti bourse

Protests could get worse if the market continues to fall, after demonstrations outside the country's bourse.

Around 50 dealers and investors demonstrate outside the Kuwait Stock Exchange, criticising the government for allowing small investors to suffer.
Around 50 dealers and investors demonstrate outside the Kuwait Stock Exchange, criticising the government for allowing small investors to suffer.

Kuwaiti investor protests could get worse on Sunday if the market continues to fall, traders warn after demonstrations outside the country's bourse today disrupted proceedings. About 50 investors and traders demonstrated outside the Kuwait Stock Exchange, demanding the government increase market support in the face of collapsing share prices, claiming the state had concentrated on bailing out major shareholders instead of smaller investors. In September, the Kuwait Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund, started to pump money into the market through investment funds and also began increasing its overseas investments. The generally peaceful protesters handed out leaflets, Reuters reported, reading: "Billions went to some influential parties to save their investments abroad under the claim of supporting the market, leaving the majority of traders to their fate." The index has shed 33 per cent of its value since June. Today it fell by 323 points, or three per cent. The protesters were demanding government funds step in to buy more shares after a dearth of buyers in the market meant small retail investors were unable to offload their stock. He said the protests, which were a repeat of those in 2006, were expected to grow in number on Sunday if the markets continued to fall and the government did not concede to their demands. World markets were almost universally in decline today because of poor corporate earnings and continued recession fears, kick-started by the Far East ? the Japanese Nikkei led the charge by falling by 2.46 per cent, and Singapore and Hong Kong followed suit, plunging by 4.14 and 3.55 per cent respectively, wiping out some of the gains they have made this week. GCC stocks declined across the board as the price of oil stayed below $70 a barrel. The Dubai Financial Market was the only index to close in green territory, up by 1.5 per cent following a late buying spree. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange lost two per cent of its value, while Doha shed 4.4 per cent, Muscat 2.4 per cent and Bahrain 0.8 per cent. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul market was closed for the weekend. Falling corporate profits led major European exchanges into declines, with London's FTSE 100 at one point down more than two per cent, the German Dax falling four per cent and the French Cac by three per cent.

The protesters were demanding government funds step in to buy more shares after a dearth of buyers in the market meant small retail investors were unable to sell their stock. A trader said the protests, which were a repeat of those in 2006, were expected to expand on Sunday if the markets continued to fall and the government did not agree to their demands. Ali Khan, director at Arqaam Capital in Dubai, said: "From a broader perspective, when markets behave irrationally, like they are in the region right now, there is a case for government intervention." "There is a complete breakdown and it seems markets cannot correct themselves, which could have severe social and economic implications," he said, adding that it was difficult to say which of the regional markets should get support from the government and for how long.

World markets were almost universally in decline on Thursday because of poor corporate earnings and continued recession fears, kick-started by the Far East. The Japanese Nikkei led the charge by falling by 2.46 per cent, and Singapore and Hong Kong followed suit, plunging by 4.14 and 3.55 per cent respectively, wiping out some of the gains they have made this week. GCC stocks declined across the board as the price of oil stayed below $70 a barrel. The Dubai Financial Market was the only index to close in positive territory, up by 1.5 per cent following a late buying spree.

Abu Dhabi's key index lost two per cent of its value, while Doha shed 4.4 per cent, Muscat 2.4 per cent and Bahrain 0.8 per cent. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul market was closed for the weekend. Falling corporate profits led major European exchanges into declines, with London's FTSE 100 down more than two per cent at one point, the German Dax falling four per cent and the French Cac by three per cent. afoxwell@thenational.ae Additional reporting by Sarmad Khan