Egyptian Stock Exchange in Cairo
Egypt's stock exchange finished a full week of losses on Thursday, as concerns over a new wave of mass protests combined with poor third-quarter results for local firms to pull the main
index to its lowest level in five weeks.
The benchmark EGX30 fell 1.1 per cent to 4,124.7 points, bringing the index's total losses to 259 points -- or 5.9 per cent -- since trade opened on Sunday. All other indices EGX 70, EGX 100 and EGX 20 followed suite.
"It's wait and see at the moment," says Walaa Hazem, vice president for asset management at HC Securities & Investment.
"There are no major buyers or major sellers -- everyone is waiting for some clarity in the political scene. Added to that, the European markets are not in favour of [investing in] stocks in Egypt -- or anywhere else in the world."
Friday will see street protests across the country, led by Islamist groups who want the government to scrap plans to lay down principles for a new constitution before it is written. Moreover, a coptic march was attacked Thursday in Shubra, a highly populated district inthe heart of Cairo.
Investors are also awaiting the outcome of protests by residents of the northern Egyptian port city of Damietta, who are complaining about what they say is environmental damage from a nitrogen factory owned partly by Canada's Agrium.
From 177 listed stocks, 46 gained value and 113 lost -- a performance reflected in the broader EGX70, which finished Thursday 0.24 per cent down.
Financial institutions led the market lower, in a sign of an increasing lack of confidence in the broader economy. Last week, Standard & Poor's renewed its high-risk rating for Egypt's banks, citing weakened assets and profitability indicators.
High-cap Commercial International Bank fell a further 2.67 per cent on Thursday after reporting worse-than-expected earnings earlier in the week.
Investment bank EFG-Hermes took a hit too, continuing to feel the effect of its 64 per cent net drop in third-quarter income, with stocks finishing 1.37 per cent down.
Worst affected in the sector -- and in the market as a whole -- was Credit Agricole Egypt, which tumbled 7.99 per cent. The bank reported a 25 per cent fall in 9-month net profits early in November.
Other high-caps, Orascom Development and Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's largest listed firm, fell 3.22 and 0.7 per cent respectively.
Real estate -- which has taken a battering since the exchange reopened after seven weeks in March -- was the only sector to finish in the green on Thursday.
High-cap Talaat Moustafa Group shares edged up 0.61 per cent, compensating for the marginal losses of the sector's other major players, Palm Hills Development and Sixth of October Development.
Total turnover was a thin LE230.3 million, a slight improvement on the last few days, but a fraction of its value as late as June of this year.
Foreign investors, who typically make up around a third of trade, boosted their participation to some 48 per cent but were net-sellers to the tune of LE28.6 million. Egyptians made up 42.6 per cent and were net-buyers of LE30.25m in stocks.