Market Report: Egypt stocks slip 2 pct as trade slumps after Coptic Pope's death

Ahram Online, Sunday 18 Mar 2012

Major stocks take a tumble as investors lose their trading appetite and turnover falls to a three-month low

Egypt exchange
Major stocks dip and trade stalls in the wake of the Coptic Pope's death (Photo: AP)

Egyptian stocks started the week in the red as investors rolled back trade in what analysts said was a reaction to Coptic Pope Shenouda III's death, prompting turnover to fall to a three-month low.

The EGX30 benchmark slumped 2.01 per cent to close Sunday at 5,065.7 points. It was the first loss for the main index in three sessions after it rallied towards the close of last week. 
"Investors have lost their trading appetite after the death of Pope Shenouda," said Eissa Fathy, head of the securities division at Cairo's Chamber of Commerce. 
The head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church died on Saturday evening, aged 88, after a long battle with illness. Within hours of the announcement, thousands of mourners had gathered in the grounds of the Coptic cathedral in Abbassiya, eastern Cairo, to pay their respects. Visits continued throughout Sunday.
"We saw shares in Orascom companies fall and that affects the whole market. The majority of Orascom's shareholders are Christians and its clear they have suspended their trading as they mourn the Pope's death," Fathy explained.   
Sell-offs of major shares may have slashed the index's value but the market saw across-the-board falls. 
From the day's 165 listed stocks, 29 gained in value and 128 declined with only a handful remaining unchanged. The broader EGX70 followed the main index, slipping 1.45 per cent.
Turnover tumbled to just LE210.5 million, around a third of its recent average. Non-Egyptian Arabs and foreigners -- normally minor players during the Sunday weekend -- took the locals' lead and reined in their activities.
Egypt's largest listed firm, Orascom Construction Industries, saw its shares tumble 2.3 per cent in a performance that set the tone for associate companies.
Stock in Orascom Telecom plummeted 3.13 per cent while Orascom Telecom Media and Technology saw losses of 2.68 per cent.
Real estate stocks, which have taken a battering in the year since Egypt's uprising, once again felt the pain. Shares in the Talaat Moustafa Group fell 3.84 per cent, while Palm Hills Development lost 2.97 per cent.
Beltone Financial was the day's biggest high-cap loser, down 8.36 per cent, in the latest of a series of losses for the investment bank. Otherwise, it was lower-cap stocks like the Alexandria New Medical Center which took the heaviest hit.
National Societe General Bank (NSGB) was the only EGX30-listed share to survive the cull, rising by a meagre 0.1 per cent.
"There was little negative news to drive the market down except that about the Pope death," said Mostafa Badry, a market expert. "That seems to have impacted on investors’ minds."
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