Egyptian stocks closed the week with a modest rally as favourable news for market heavyweights EFG-Hermes and Palm Hills outweighed the latest wave of political uncertainty.
The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.54 percent to finish Thursday at 4,935 points, the culimination of a week of revitalised but fluctuating trade.
Turnover was a healthy LE536.3 million, nearly a quarter of it tied up in Mobinil, the mobile phone operator recently acquired by France Telecom.
"The market also saw some excitement from news about Palm Hills and EFG-Hermes and there was cross-trading on Mobinil," Hisham Halaldeen, Head of Research Sales at Naeem Brokerage told Ahram Online.
On Thursday it was reported that an Egyptian court has lifted a freeze on the assets of Yassin Mansour, chairman of real estate giant Palm Hills Development (PHD). Mansour was last year cleared on corruption charges related to a land deal.
The news helped PHD shares surge 5.08 percent by the close of play.
Also seeing a boost was the country's largest investment bank EFG-Hermes, rocketing 9.03 percent on reports the firm is in final talks to sell a 60-percent stake to Qatar's QInvest.
Independent Egyptian newspaper Shorouk said on Wednesday the planned partnership between the two companies would include securities brokerage, asset management and investment banking operations, but not EFG Hermes Private Equity.
In a statement on Thursday, EFG-Hermes said the negotiations, which were still under way, "will result in the creation of the largest investment bank in the Arab World, Africa, Turkey, South and South East Asia". It was possible that QInvest would take a majority stake in the new bank, it said.
Also fuelling interest was confirmation that EFG-Hermes in concert with Qatar's Mannai Corp had taken control of Dubai jeweller Damas after their consortium's $445 million offer was accepted over 75 percent of the latter's shareholders.
Further bolstering the main index was a solid performance by Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's largest listed firm. It gained 0.67 percent following news of its $363 million deal with the Iraqi government to build a power plant.
Broader gains were limited, however, by the mild retreats of fellow high-caps Orascom Telecom -- down 1.15 percent -- and OTMT which slipped 2.07 percent.
Foreign investors made up an unusually high 38 percent of the market, responsible for high-volume cross trades in Mobinil and Telecom Egypt.
Egyptians were the day's sole net-buyers, scooping up LE30.7 million more in stocks than they sold.
From 176 listed stocks, 82 finished in the green and 66 declined with the rest holding their values.