Kuwaiti stocks end week on record high

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) — Kuwaiti stocks brushed aside political tension ahead of a crucial general elections to end the week's trading at a new all-time high on positive corporate results, traders said on Thursday.

The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) Index finished at 14,774.10 points -- up 0.6 percent on last week's close.

The index is now 17.6 percent higher than its 2007-end close of 12,558.90. It ended the first quarter up 13.8 percent.

Traders attributed the sharp rise to increased investor sentiment on positive first quarter results by major listed firms.

National Bank of Kuwait, the emirate's leading lender, Kuwait Finance House, its largest Islamic bank and several banks and companies have announced handsome increases in their first quarter profits.

Investors appear to have ignored the political crisis that led to last month's dissolution of parliament and early elections called for May 17.

The market also continues to enjoy abundant liquidity on increased spending by the government which has posted record revenues of 72 billion dollars in the past fiscal year because of high oil prices.

Kuwait, whose foreign assets stood at 213 billion dollars in March 2007, is undertaking an ambitious plan to transform the wealthy emirate into a regional financial and trade hub.

This involves spending more than 100 billion dollars on massive projects over the next decade.

The KSE, which lists 200 Kuwaiti and foreign firms, is the second largest in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia, and has a capitalisation of more than 235 billion dollars.