Kuwait bourse seen steady; UAE banks in focus

Kuwait's index is seen steady on Monday despite demonstrations against the new parliament.

Prolonged political upheaval has weighed on stocks this year, with the main index slumping to an eight-year low in early November.

The country's ruler opened a new parliament on Sunday in the face of months of street protests and political unrest, saying he welcomed constructive criticism but would not accept lawless behaviour and chaos on the streets.

Security forces had set up barriers that stopped several hundred opposition activists - a small crowd by Kuwaiti standards - approaching the building overnight to continue their demonstrations against what they see as a rubber-stamp assembly.

"Retail investors are relieved with the new government and they want to continue putting money in the market - people have absorbed the negative sentiment of the continuous demonstrations and they want, more than ever, for the government to succeed," says Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

The state-owned National Portfolio Fund has been buying stocks to support the bourse, expanding its target stocks from bluechips to the wider market, including small-caps, Darwish adds.

Kuwait's benchmark rose 0.1 percent on Sunday.

In the UAE, bank stocks may gain after the central bank postponed introducing restrictions on commercial banks' exposure to state-linked debt and requirements for them to hold liquid assets, after complaints from the banks.

Some analysts were concerned banks would not be able to offload existing debt to comply with the regulations, while future lending growth may have also been affected.

Elsewhere, global gains may support Gulf sentiment. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan's electoral triumph propelled the yen to a 20-month low against the dollar that saw the Nikkei stock average touch a 8-1/2-month high on expectations of much better export earnings.

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