Kuwait bourse seen steady ahead of elections

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(AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP/Getty Images)

Kuwait's bourse is seen steady on Thursday in its last trading session before parliamentary elections on December 1.

Kuwait's opposition is largely boycotting the elections in protest over changes to voting rules. Protests are planned for Friday.

The Gulf state's prime minister said authorities will allow the protest march to go ahead, in a move designed to ease tensions ahead of the poll.

"I don't believe the government will allow the market to slide today, nor will it be in the interest of the retailers," says Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House. "There was participation from the [state-run] National Portfolio Fund yesterday and many retailers have been booking positions in the last two sessions."

Kuwait's index slipped from a six-week high on Wednesday.

Shares in Kuwait Finance House will be in focus after its Turkish operation, Kuveyt Turk applied for a German banking licence, aiming to become the first Islamic bank in Europe's largest economy.

In Egypt, the assembly writing the constitution said it could wrap up a final draft later on Wednesday, a move the Muslim Brotherhood sees as a way out of a crisis over a decree by President Mohamed Mursi that protesters say gives him dictatorial powers.

Selling pressure on Egypt's bourse dragged the benchmark index to a four-month low on Wednesday as institutional investors looked for an exit following nationwide protests.

In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah appeared on state television on Wednesday for the first time since his 11-hour operation to tighten a back ligament on November 17, helping assuage fears over his health.

The kingdom's bourse is closed on Thursday for its weekend.

Elsewhere, upbeat global markets may help support Gulf investor sentiment.

Asian shares hit a three-week high and commodities rose on Thursday as sentiment improved after a senior US lawmaker said he was "optimistic" on reaching a budget deal before the end of the year to avoid a fiscal crisis.

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