The Egyptian bourse saw a relatively uneventful trading day Wednesday, with the benchmark EGX30 index barely moving and turnover levels remaining atypically low as both buyers and sellers maintain a wait-and-see approach to the market.
The EGX30 fell by 0.02 per cent to alight at 3,655 points. The broader-based EGX70 index, meanwhile, gained 0.46 per cent.
"The main problem is that the market isn’t attracting liquidity since both buyers and sellers are unwilling to change their positions at current price levels," said Ashraf Abdel Aziz, head of institutional sales at the Cairo-based Arabeya Online Securities. "This is what we refer to as reaching a stability point."
The market has witnessed extremely low turnover levels since last week, which some observers have attributed to the just-ended holiday season. Others, however, have chalked the phenomenon up to uncertainties regarding Egypt's political and economic future, which have served to spook fresh funds away from the troubled exchange.
Wednesday's trading was not any different, with total daily turnover standing at a mere LE100.3 million (roughly $16.7 million).
The holiday season will continue in Egypt, however, where eastern Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. The Central Bank of Egypt announced on Wednesday that banks would be given a holiday on Sunday, 8 January, on the occasion of eastern Christmas, which this year will fall on a Saturday. The stock market, therefore, will also be closed on Sunday.
Foreign investors accounted for some 28 per cent of the day’s total trade, net-buying at LE1.7 million. Arab investors, meanwhile, despite their low contribution to turnover, represented the day’s major net-sellers at LE1.4 million.
Egyptian investors, for their part, accounted for 70 per cent of the day’s trading.
Blue-chip stocks gave a varied performance, with market bellwethers Commercial International Bank (CIB) and Telecom Egypt (TE) gaining 2.42 and 1.59 per cent respectively. Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), the market’s largest listed company in terms of capitalisation, however, dropped 1.47 per cent to close at LE203.23 per share.
Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT), the two companies to come out of the recent Orascom Telecom (OT) split, did not begin trading today as scheduled. On Monday, the exchange's trading committee announced that the two shares would be made available for trading one day after publication of a disclosure report required by the market's listing rules.
Some observers believe that OT’s return to the market following a month-long absence will have a positive effect on market turnover.