Egyptian stocks ended flat on Thursday amid minimal trade as investors fretted over the forthcoming verdict in the trial of ex-president Hosni Mubarak and demonstrations planned to protest against last week's presidential election.
The benchmark EGX30 traded in the red for most of the four-hour session before seeing a mild recovery to close up just 0.01 per cent at 4.686 points. The broader EGX70 slipped a similarly small 0.03 per cent.
"The market opened down with low volumes, however after an hour of trading we witnessed some buying on large caps," said a market note from Cairo-based Naeem Brokerage.
Total turnover was a very low LE189.5 million ($31.37m) as trade continued to be squeezed while foreign investors largely stayed off the market.
A coalition of revolutionary youth groups has called for Egyptians to head to Tahrir Square on 'Disenfranchisement Friday' to demand the exclusion of Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq from the presidential race. Shafiq is due to compete against the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in a runoff due 16-17 June.
Adding to tensions, outsted president Hosni Mubarak, on trial for corruption and ordering the killing of protesters, will hear his court verdict on Saturday, 2 June.
Egypt's largest listed firm Orascom Construction Industries saw nearly 30 per cent of Thursday's total trade but lost 2.39 per cent despite news earlier in the week that it would earn $605 million from the sale of its in US grains merchant Gavilon.
Investment bank EFG-Hermes, meanwhile, shrugged off a report that its co-chief executives will stand trial for grant charges, to gain 3.49 per cent as it restarted trading in the final hour.
The new gains were fulled by a Thursday statement from the bank confirming that a group of investors have presented it with a buy-out offer.
Non-Egyptian Arabs were the day's only overall buyers, picking up LE61.3 million more in stock than they sold. Foreigners and Egyptians were net-sellers to the tune of LE31.9m and LE29.37, respectively.
From the 163 stocks traded on Thursday, 58 gained in value and 87 declined.