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Fri 2 Nov 2012 09:49 AM

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Kuwait shares hit eight-year low on turmoil

Intensifying political unrest triggers another sell-off on country's main index

Kuwait shares hit eight-year low on turmoil

Intensifying political turmoil in Kuwait, where police used teargas to disperse protesters a day earlier, triggered another sell-off on the country's main index on Thursday, dragging it down to its lowest level since August 2004.

Most other Gulf bourses ended higher ahead of the weekend.

Kuwait's benchmark fell 1.9 percent to 5,658 points, falling below the previous eight-year low hit in August this year.

"The political instability is directly impacting the short-term and long-term outlook for Kuwait," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage services at Global Investment House.

"In the past, we had day traders who were willing to gamble on a quick resolution of the political scene. But unfortunately, the problem is becoming fiercer and the opposition is becoming more vocal."

Kuwaiti police used teargas and smoke bombs on Wednesday night to disperse thousands of protesters marching on a prison where an opposition leader is being held on charges of insulting the emir, witnesses said.

The Ministry of Interior, in a statement on state news agency KUNA, said security services must intervene to disperse violent protests and arrest rioters.

Retail investor-dominated small-caps were hardest hit. Of the three most traded stocks, Gulf Investment House dropped 4.1 percent, Abyaar Real Estate fell 5.0 percent and Ithmaar Bank shed 5.0 percent.

In the UAE, Dana Gas shares gained 2.4 percent, rising from Wednesday's six-week low as bargain hunters returned. The stock accounted for more than half of shares changing hands on the Abu Dhabi bourse. After markets closed, the bourse said it would suspend Dana shares pending clarification on its Islamic bond.

Abu Dhabi's index ticked up 0.04 percent to close at a fresh 15-month high.

Dubai's heavyweights helped lift the benchmark, by 0.2 percent to 1,623 points, up for a second session in the last six.

Emaar Properties gained 1.4 percent and Emirates NBD climbed 0.7 percent. Dubai Financial Market , the Gulf's only listed bourse, advanced 2 percent.

Elsewhere, Industries Qatar rallied to a four-year high as foreign investors continued buying in the bluechip, helping lift the main benchmark to a six-week high.

Shares in IQ rose 1.7 percent to their highest close since September 2008.

The petrochemicals and metals company posted a 23.7-percent jump in third-quarter net profit last month, beating average analysts' forecasts.

The index gained 0.7 percent to its highest close since September 19.

In Oman, the market rose to a two-week high, up 0.5 percent to close at 5,689 points, as it resumed trade after a long Eid al Adha holiday.

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