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The Relationship between Oil Price & Kuwait Index-Is it breaking?

Date : 07/04/2010

Author:  M.R. Raghu & Layla Al-Ammar

Sometime back we created this historical chart depicting oil price and Kuwait stock index since 1994. Last time when we checked this in 2008, the relationship showed a historical correlation of more than 90%. A plain look at the chart would also make one feel that they are not two different lines. (see chart)
 
 
However what caught our attention is the recent divergence between oil price and KSE Index.  While the long-term correlation (since 1994) stands at 93%, the last five years correlation is placed at 75%. A simple linear regression model (with oil price as independent variable) based on last five year’s data suggests the following:
 

Oil Price

KSE Index (Expected)

Deviation from Current Index

20

5,607

-26%

30

6,497

-14%

40

7,387

-2%

50

8,278

9%

60

9,168

21%

70

10,058

33%

80

10,949

45%

90

11,839

57%

100

12,729

68%

110

13,619

80%

120

14,510

92%


In other words, the current index (at 7562) is at a discount of nearly 45% given the current oil price of USD80. Alternatively, the current index factors an oil price of only USD40 as against the current oil price of USD80.
 
 
Has something happened to Kuwait market that the strong relationship with oil price is slowly breaking away? Or does this spell a classic market opportunity? If the former is true, then the index will never close the 30% gap. If the latter is true, a USD100 oil price would mean an index level of 12,729 (68% higher from the current level). If the current index factors an oil price of only USD40, the downside risk appears minimal. However, if the 30% gap reflects fundamental structural weakness created by the financial crisis, then we may need more and more oil price to see the index make further moves.
 
In the past a strong and increasing oil price directly resulted in increased liquidity in the banking system passing finally on to end investors in the form of loans/credit. This meant money available for speculation and trading. However, in the current scheme of things a strong oil price will still create liquidity but may not create the same “pass through” effect given the fact that banks have turned more risk averse. It may also be worth noting that there are more negative catalysts than positive ones such as the corporate issues (Agility, Investment Dar, Global, Zain etc) in addition to the regulatory/political climate which have negative implications on investor sentiment. Also, lack of transparency is an issue raising negative investor sentiment. The market always had weak transparency but investors tend to care about it less in “good times” and given that the last couple of years have been bad, lack of transparency has been more of a negative catalyst than usual Hence, in our assessment, the discount is here to stay though the extent (30%) can be debated. So pray for more oil price. 

Tags:  KSE, Oil

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