Egyptian shares slid back into the red on Thursday as fatal clashes near Cairo's Ministry of Defence claimed as many as 20 lives, hitting investor confidence in the country's political future and squeezing already diminished trade.
The benchmark EGX30 slipped 0.77 per cent to close at 4,906.9 points in the exchange's first trading session since Monday. The broader EGX70 tumbled a more significant 2.45 percent, reflecting across-the-board losses.
"The market opened on a weak note after the events that took place late last night in Abbasiya," a note from the Cairo-based Naeem Brokerage said. "Volume continued to be weak."
More than a dozen people were reported killed and hundreds injured near Egypt's Ministry of Defence in the eastern Cairo district of Abbasiya on Wednesday when local residents, some armed with guns, attacked protesters demanding an end to army rule.
Egypt's army deployed extra troops to control the situation and some political party leaders later met members of the ruling military council in an effort to defuse the crisis.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party boycotted the meeting, saying the violence was an attempt to "obstruct the [military's] handover of power" by the 1 July deadline.
Already weakened by a tottering economy and political turbulence, trading volume was a weak LE357 million (roughly $60 million) -- a third lower than the previous week's average.
In a reversal of recent patterns, foreign and non-Egyptian investors were net-buyers and Egyptians sold more stocks than they bought.
Orascom Telecom Media And Technology Holding (OTMT) saw the heaviest trade -- some LE44.9 million of the day's total -- but fell 2.82 per cent.
Companions in the telecoms sector, Orascom Telecom and Telecom Egypt, mirrored its performance, losing 2.66 and 1.31 per cent respectively.
Other heavyweights seeing losses were real estate firm SODIC -- down 4.04 per cent -- and Ezz Steel, which fell 3.56 per cent.
Cushioning the main index from deeper losses was Orascom Construction industries (OCI), the only high-cap to buck the downward trend. Egypt's largest firm by market capitalisation, it surged a further 1.71 per cent, still fuelled by news of a share split.
From the day's 174 listed shares, 152 lost value while 18 gained and four held steady.