Egyptian major stocks dropped to a 19-month low on Tuesday as revived protests ahead of mid-June's presidential runoff and a ban on foreign trading for brokerages spurred investors into offloading stock.
The benchmark EGX30 plunged 2.31 per cent to 4,502.9 points, its lowest finish since 26 January, with every heavyweight stock finishing in the red. The broader EGX70 dipped a slightly milder 2.09 per cent.
"The market is just reflecting the political situation and the economic worries," Osama Mourad of Arab Finance Brokerage told Reuters.
Crowds on Tuesday gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest for a fourth day against verdicts in the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The presidential run-off, scheduled for June 16-17, pits Mubarak's last prime minister against the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate. The choice is polarising and dividing Egyptians - many of whom voted for centralist candidates - and victory for either contender could spell further instability.
From the 167 stocks traded on Tuesday, just 12 gained in value while 140 declined and the remainder held steady.
Turnover was LE214.43 million ($35.5m) -- slightly up on recent days -- with investment bank EFG-Hermes seeing the heaviest interest,in trade worth around LE39m.
he investment bank, currently embroiled in takeover bids from QInvest and a consortium reportedly headed by Naguib Sawiris, saw its shares drop 1.84 per cent by the close of Tuesday trade.
Other high-caps took significant losses. Egypt's largest-listed firm, Orascom Construction Industries, fell 2.09 per cent, Ezz Steel dropped 2.31 per cent and the Talaat Moustafa Group shed 2.99 per cent.
Investment banks and financial firms took losses, possibly spurred by a decree signed this week by Egypt's prime minister which amends the country's capital market law to make it illegal for brokerages and investment firms to deal in all foreign listed or unlisted securities.
he Commercial International Bank fell 2.14 per cent, while Pioneers Holding shed 5.12 per cent. Naeem Holding lost 4 per cent.
Non-Egyptian Arabs were the day's only overall buyers, scooping up LE2.94 million worth of stocks. Local investors sold LE1.9 million more than they bought, while foreigners sold LE1.036 million.