Traders in action on Egypt's Bourse (Photo: Reuters)
A shift in focus for Egyptian and Arab investors led main stock indexes to diverge Wednesday as mixed activity in high caps was outpaced by speculative trade prompted by ongoing political turmoil.
After making early day gains the EGX30 benchmark slipped in the afternoon to finish down 0.04 per cent at 5.142 points, a minimal loss in stark contrast to the broader EGX70 which edged up 1.07 per cent.
"The main index is seeing more pressure so Egyptians and Arab have changed their techniques by going for speculative stocks -- the kind that attract investors reacting to political events. That's why we saw the divergence," says Eissa Fathy, vice president of securities at the Chamber of Commerce.
The Wednesday trading board was splashed almost equally with red and green by the close of play; from 185 listed stocks, 86 gained and 75 declined. Five sectors rose while seven fell.
Total market turnover was LE499.7 million, around a sixth of which was taken up by trade in Commercial International Bank (CIB) which failed to budge either up or down. Such interest, says Fathy, was a sign that recent dips had brought CIB shares to an attractive price level.
Trades in fellow high-cap Telecom Egypt were second most dominant, reaching LE49.6 million -- a tenth of the total -- and gaining 0.51 per cent. Its two companions in the telecoms sector fell around 1.3 per cent each.
Modest losses were shared by other major stocks like TMG Holding, Palm Hills Holding and Orascom Telecom, with investors holding back for important second quarter results before committing, believes Fathy.
Befiting a market in thrall to speculation from individual investors, several smaller firms saw a further day of rapid gains; the Egyptian Real Estate group soaring 9.7 per cent, Rakta Paper Manufacturing 9.45 per cent.
Others that previously benefited from recent surges fell victim to classic profit-taking, with Egyptian Chemical Industries losing 5.6 per cent and Kafr El Zayat Pesticides dipping 4.29 per cent.
The foreign stake in the market soared over the following two days to reach 35.6 per cent, although selling was the dominant activity with over LE31m of stocks off-loaded.
"Foreign investors look to international markets and try to adjust their positions across them all, especially emerging ones like Egypt," explains Fathy, pointing to turbulence in European exchanges, which fell to a four-month low on Monday before regaining some steam today.
"It was left to Egyptians and other Arabs to be the balancing factor," he added. They were responsible for LE21.8m and LE9.4m of net-buys respectively.