STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Clashes in Egypt, Kuwait seen spurring sell-off

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

pro-government candidates.

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)

Most Popular in Business