The trial of Egypt's ousted president cast a shadow on the country's stock market on Wednesday with volume falling to a 10-year low as traders joined millions of rapt viewers in following the television coverage.
The EGX30 benchmark closed 0.88 per cent down at 4,923.29 points, partly recovering from a sharper fall in the opening 90 minutes of trade. Total market turnover was a limp LE239 million ($40m), the lowest in a decade according to state news agency MENA.
"Volumes were negatively affected by the trial, which was televised live. It distracted investors during the trading session," Marwa Hamed, a trader at Wathika Brokerage told MENA.
"Volumes were very light in early trading but there was a pick-up by the end of the day," she added.
The broader indexes EGX70 and EGX100 slipped by 0.33 and 0.44 per cent respectively.
Arabs and non-Arab investors made net sell-offs worth LE10.5m and LE17.1m respectively. Locals were net-buyers of LE27.6m.
Despite the collapse in volume, several high-cap firms managed to reverse recent losses to finish slightly in the green. Leading the pack was Egypt's Commercial International Bank (CIB), up 0.2 per cent, but EFG Hermes followed suit, gaining 0.6 per cent. Many housing stocks also saw modest gains.
From the day's 173 traded stocks, 85 gained and 73 declined.
The telecoms sector was the biggest loser, led downwards by a 3.46 per cent dip for Orascom Telecom and a smaller one for Mobinil, the country's biggest mobile service provider by volume.
Business news had a small effect on the Bourse too, as shares in the electric appliance producer Olympic Group edged up 0.25 per cent with the commencement of a tender offer from Denmark's Electrolux to take 100 per cent ownership.
The Egyptian Company for Touristic Resorts made for an unlikely gainer too, up 0.88 per cent as it denied reports it had been told of government plans to retroactively raise the prices of 20 million square metres of land it bought from the state.
But an announcement of an 8 per cent climb in first half profits for Egypt's NSGB bank couldn't save its stocks from a 1.31 per cent decline.