The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) has ended a difficult year of severe fluctuations and hard times, hoping that the new year will bring new opportunities to reach stability and offset its losses, the financial experts concurred Thursday.
"The market was hardly-hit over the past year with the repercussions of some local, regional and international developments," Maitham Al-Shakhs, manager of Al-Arabi Financial Brokerage Co., told KUNA.
He elaborated that the stock market began 2014 with gain-making but it did not last for long time as the decisions taken by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to refer files of a number of the speculators on the market to the prosecution on charges of fraud has shaken the market up.
"This decision had a huge impact on the market which sooner started a new stage of loss-making and declines," he said.
Al-Shakhs added that the market suffered weakness in the mid-year, especially in terms of the volume of and the value of traded shares, particularly after some of the major market players left to the nearby capital markets for more promising investment opportunities.
Some investors have also left the market, especially in the holy month of Ramadan, when the liquidity on the market recorded consecutive declines, he said.
He suggested that the CMA's move to tighten oversight over listed companies has also pushed some companies to voluntarily withdraw from the market citing their inability to comply with the new governance regulations.
Al-Shakhs stated that the liquidity drop has also scared away some traders.
The liquidity dropped in 2014 even at bigger rates than that of recorded during the climax of the global financial crisis in 2008, he said.
He, however, expected that the stock market will rebound in 2015 in line with the expected oil price hikes.
For his part, General Manager of MENA Economic and Financial Consulting Adnan Al-Dulaimi told KUNA that there are some major events that have affected the stock market movement in 2014. These factors varied in their implications, whether positively or negatively, in some trading times in 2014, he said.
Al-Dulaimi added that one of the factors was the change of the Board of Commissioners (CMA) in the wake of numerous complaints from the listed companies.
The change had negative impacts on all sides, he said. The executive regulations of the CMA law also caused widespread anger and controversy on the market, he noted.
He elaborated that the market was also affected by the new governance system and sharp slump in oil prices.
The deterioration of oil prices befuddled market and contributed to the migration of liquidity to the less-risk markets.
Price of Kuwait crude oil stood at USD 50.49 per barrel on Wednesday December 31, compared with USD 108.82 pb on June 21, down USD 41.73 pb.
Furthermore, the Kuwait Investment Authority's remarks about reducing its investments in the stock market have a direct impact on the declines witnessed by the market, especially in the fourth quarter of 2014.
He pointed out that last year saw the enlisting of Warba Bank and VIVA telecom shares. It also saw the issuance of the much overdue foreign investment encouraging law. It also saw an influential role played by the National Portfolio in striking a balance and saving the stock market, especially during sharp downturns.
He expected that the market will undergo more stable phase in 2015 as it has absorbed the factors that led to last year's declines.
The market could even offset some of its losses in the first month of 2015 with disclosures of financial statements of several operating companies, especially banks, he projected.
Chairman of Kuwait's Traders Society Mohammad Al-Tarah echoed a similar view.
The market was rattled by the sharp decline in oil prices in the second half of 2014, he said.
He noted that the Kuwait stock market price index closed the year down by 13.5 percent and the average traded value fell by 45 percent from KD 42 million in 2013 to KD 25 million in 2014.
The market capitalization stood at 29.7 billion dinars by the end of 2014, down by 984.2 million dinars or 3.2 percent, compared with that of 2013, which closed at 30.6 billion dinars.