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Investors at the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Kuwait’s stocks have clawed their way back from the devastating hits they took on March 1, when 3.2 billion dinars (about $10.5 billion) worth of value evaporated on fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause widespread and lasting damage to the economy. Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi: Kuwait’s stocks have clawed their way back from the devastating hits they took on March 1, when 3.2 billion dinars (about $10.5 billion) worth of value evaporated on fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause widespread and lasting damage to the economy.

The March 1 massacre saw the market close in an unprecedented move, after the main index dropped 11 per cent in the first 30 minutes of trading.

The index fell to its lowest level on March 16, tumbling to 25.39 billion dinars (or $82 billion) as against February 24’s 34.595 billion dinars, ($112 billion). The combined losses exceeded 9.2 billion dinars ($30 billion).

But now, with an improvement in sentiments, since the second-half of April, the market capitalisation has increased gradually and on May 21, the last session before the Eid holidays, totalled 27.99 billion dinars ($91billion).

Analysts say the market is expected to continue its cautious performance after the end of curfew imposed by Kuwait until the end of this month. There are also expectations of a gradual improvement backed by the rise in oil prices.

Kuwait announced its first COVID-19 case on February 24.

Kuwait ended 2019 as the top performing GCC market, posting its best yearly returns since 2014. The market witnessed sharp gains with its All Share Index gaining 23.7 per cent and its Premier Market Index up 32.4 per cent.

At the end of 2018, the benchmark index had recorded gains for the third consecutive year led by higher buying in large-cap stocks. The performance was reflected in the 9.9 per cent surge in the Premier Market Index that more than offset a decline of 1.9 per cent for the broader market.