0548 GMT - Overnight violent political protests in Egypt and
Kuwait are expected to spur a risk-off strategy for retail
investors on Thursday.
Islamists battled with protesters outside Egyptian President
Mohamed Mursi's palace early Thursday, after his vice president
suggested amendments could be agreed to the draft constitution
that has divided the nation.
Mursi's opponents accused him of creating a new autocracy by
awarding himself extraordinary powers in a decree on Nov. 22 and
were further angered when an Islamist-dominated assembly pushed
through a draft constitution that opponents said did not
properly represent the aspirations of the whole nation.
"If the president wants things to calm down, there needs to
be a concrete discussion with the opposition," says Mohamed
Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities.
Radwan said the market will react negatively to the violent
clashes which saw five people killed and 350 others injured.
Cairo's benchmark index rose in the two previous
sessions as progress on the constitutional referendum acted as a
trigger to bring in foreign buyers. But the market has lost 6.7
percent overall since Nov. 22.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's ruler reappointed Sheikh Jaber
al-Mubarak al-Sabah as prime minister on Wednesday and asked him
to form a government, the state news agency KUNA said, after a
parliamentary election boycotted by the opposition.
Violent street protests extended for a third night. Police
have broken up a series of snap demonstrations since Saturday,
part of protests triggered by changes to voting rules the
opposition said were designed to skew elections in favour of
Elsewhere in Kuwait, Global Investment House said
on Wednesday it had secured the full backing of its creditors
for its $1.7 billion restructuring plan.
Shares in the company were suspended from trading in Kuwait
last December after the company accumulated losses exceeding 75
percent of its capital. On Sunday, shareholders approved the
delisting of the stock from the bourse.
In Qatar, the emir has given a long-awaited green light to
regulatory reform which investors hope will help to simplify the
slow and complex process of doing business in the Gulf Arab
state. Qatar Central Bank will be the single financial regulator
in the country.
(Reporting by Nadia Saleem; Editing by Amran Abocar)