Major stocks climb to their highest level since last year as strike plans falter (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptians stocks saw their fifth consecutive gains Sunday as activists' calls for large scale industrial protests at the weekend failed to find popular support, and investors responded with a wave of buys for high-cap stocks.
The benchmark EGX30 climbed 2.93 per cent to close at 4,892.9 points, its highest level since August last year, fuelling a year-to-date rise of 35 per cent.
"It seems that the market is already eyeing political stability," Karim Abdel-Aziz, CEO of National Mutual Funds Management, told Reuters. "There is new money being pumped daily in the market. Buyers are beating sellers so far."
Campaigners demanding that Egypt's military rulers make a swifter transition to civil rule called for mass walkouts and civil disobedience on Saturday 11 February, the one-year anniversary of ex-president Hosni Mubarak's resignation.
The planned strikes were condemned by the ruling military and religious figures, including Al-Azhar University and the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
In the end, it was mainly university and high-school students who heeded activists' calls, while major sectors like public transport and manufacturing went to work as usual.
This status quo extended to the stock market, which broadened its recent winning streak.
From the day's 179 listed stocks, 164 gained in value and 12 declined. Trading of shares in 36 companies was temporarily halted after they climbed more than five per cent.
Total market turnover was a healthy LE576.9 million, with Egyptians making up over 80 per cent of trade.
High-caps led the way, with shares in Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), Egypt's largest listed stock, soaring 3.52 per cent -- a movement mirrored by other major players like El-Sewedy Electrics, up 2.7 per cent.
Shares in trouble property developer, the Talaat Moustafa Group, rocketed 5.19 per cent.
Orascom Telecom Holding, one of two assets spun off from Egypt's largest private telecoms firm earlier this year, saw its stocks close up 6.77 per cent. It is now owned by Russian telecoms giant Vimpelcom.
But trade in Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) and Mobinil -- in which OTMT has a stake -- were both suspended following rumours of a takeover.
France Telecom (FT) owns around 70 per cent of Mobinil and may be on the verge of buying the OTMT-owned balance of the firm. A joint statement on Mobinil's future is expected from OTMT and FT early on Monday.
One of the few stocks to buck the upwards trend was confectionery maker Bisco Misr. The iconic firm which reported the temporary shutdown of a Giza factory last month saw uts shares dip 4.2 per cent.
Investment bank Beltone Financial dipped 1.29 per cent following Thursday's news that local investment firm AIC had sold off its 9.6 per cent stake.
AIC in early February sought to buy Egyptian businessman Aladdin Saba's 20 per cent stake in Beltone but the deal foundered after Beltone rejected some of AIC's demands.
Egyptian individuals made up the bulk of the day's trade. Non-Arab foreigners were the only net-buyers, scooping up LE14.13m more in stocks than they sold.