Egyptian stock exhange reversed its recent gains on Tuesday, returning to the red as a crackdown on Cairo protests and speculation about the former president's upcoming trial sparked a foreign sell-off of high-cap shares.
The EGX30 benchmark index dropped 2.09 per cent to 4,967 points, effectively wiping out the modest gains of Sunday and Monday. The broader EGX70 and EGX100 indices declined 1.7 and 1.6 per cent respectively.
"The fall was because of foreign sales which mostly include institutions -- these drops weren't met by local purchasing power," says Ashraf Abdel Aziz, head of institutions sales at Arabia Online Securities.
Monday's violent dispersal of the remaining protesters on Cairo's Tahrir Square by Egyptian security forces has added to growing scepticism about Mubarak's trial, due for Wednesday, to put overseas traders on edge, Abdel Aziz explains.
Foreigners sold a net total of LE18.7 million on Tuesday, followed closely by non-Egyptian Arabs who offloaded LE11.7m. Egyptians failed to balance the market, net-buying LE30.4m in shares.
From 180 listed stocks, 32 saw gains and 136 declined in a session that saw a low turnover of LE 338.5m.
All market sectors took a dip except food/beverages and pharmaceuticals -- areas that analysts predicted would benefit during the holy month of Ramadan. One of Egypt's major dairy producers, Juhayna Food Industries, saw its shares climb 1.2 per cent.
Sinai Cement, which took a new place on the EGX30 benchmark on Sunday, rose 0.8 per cent; the eight other recently promoted shares all finished down.
Blue-chip stocks led the decline, chief among them Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) which had the highest turnover -- some LE35.3m, a tenth of the total trade -- but fell 1.8 per cent.
Heaviest losses for the EGX30 were felt by Orascom Telecom (OT) and Sixth of October Development (SODIC) declining 3.3 and 5.6 per cent respectively.
"OT and SODIC reached a low price level and saw their worst performances over the last few weeks," says Abdel Aziz.
Egypt's largest steel producer Ezz Steel also took a hit, finishing down 1.9 per cent.
Embattled property developer the Talaat Moustafa Group and Telecom Egypt both slumped 3.2 per cent.