Egyptian stocks trimmed their losses on Wednesday with investors reining in trade and holding to recent acquisitions as the country sees a period of relative political calm ahead of presidential elections.
The benchmark EGX30 tumbled in the opening minutes but a limited revival cut its losses to 0.25 per cent by the close of trade.
"We're seeing investors being cautious and holding to their shares - they're refusing to sell when the stock prices are so low," said Issa Fathy, vice president of the securities division at Cairo's Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier sessions this week have seen the exchange hit by a wave of profit-taking as investors take advantage of several weeks of across-the-board gains.
The main index has gained 38.5 per cent since the beginning of 2012, making it one of the world's top performers.
On Tuesday, the EGX30 slipped 2.3 per cent as selling pressure grew.
From Wednesday's 184 listed stocks, 51 gained value and 124 declined; a limited turndown that had a knock-on effect on the broader EGX70 index which slipped 1.1 per cent.
Total market turnover was LE437.3 million ($72.45 million), around a third lower than its average in recent weeks.
Non-Arab foreign investors, who typically make up a third of trade, cut back their involvement to around 15 per cent and were net-sellers.
"They were sellers by some LE18 million, that's not a big loss," said Fathy.
Yet again high-cap shares in the property and telecoms sector dominated trade, with major players split between marginal losses and gains. Both sectors are seen as relatively solid investments, with select stocks rocketing in value following news of takeover bids and resolutions to longstanding legal disputes.
Egyptian mobile operator Mobinil, which last week saw a deal that would sell it France Telecom, saw its stocks stumble 0.24 per cent. The fall follows unfavourable results for the fourth quarter of 2011, which show a net loss caused by a new company bonus structure and an increased marketing spend.
Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, tracking large-scale gains just last week, slipped 1.44 per cent. But state landline monopoly Telecom Egypt bucked the trend, trading up 0.77 per cent ahead of profit results due on Thursday.
It was a similar story with real estate, a sector which more than any other has exemplified the last year's lurches between optimism and depression.
Stocks in the Talaat Moustafa Group dipped 2.16 per cent, while Palm Hills Development slipped 0.51 per cent.
However Egypt's third-largest property firm SODIC went againt the tide, rising 3.2 per cent on reports the company will launch four new projects in 2012 worth a total LE3.5 billion ($600m).
Later on Wednesday, SODIC also sent a statement to the Bourse reporting LE218 million worth of sales for its existing projects last month.
Positive results also boosted the performance of the construction materials sector. Ezz El-Dekheila announced a 28 per cent rise in its annual profits in 2011, pushing its stocks up 1.04 per cent.
Parent company Ezz Steel was helped by the news too, gaining 1.02 per cent.
On the whole, though, caution was Wednesday's byword.
"The market is not in a bad shape but people are still hesitant to step in at current levels," Chamel Fahmy of Pharos Securities told Reuters.