Egypt stock values fell again Monday as prices continued to correct themselves. The situation appeared even more uncertain following the death on Saturday of Pope Shenouda III, long-time head of Egypt's Coptic Church, which contributed to falls in trade volume.
The benchmark EGX30 index lost 0.62 per cent of its value on Monday to close the day out at 5,033 points. Total daily turnover, meanwhile, fell to LE344 million (roughly $57 million), significantly lower than the levels seen in the past two weeks.
"There's definitely a degree of concern as to who will succeed Pope Shenouda," said Mohamed Metwally, an equity trader at the Cairo-based Prime Securities.
Shenouda had been known for his astuteness in dealing with the potentially explosive issue of Muslim-Christian relations. "No one knows if the next pope will prove as wise as Shenouda was," Metwally said.
Market losses in Monday's session, however, were not solely attributable to the pope's death. The EGX30 had been steadily losing ground since hitting a six-month high on 7 March.
"The general sentiment in the market now is that the EGX30 should fall below the 5,000-point mark before prices again become attractive to buyers," said Metwally.
The EGX30 has enjoyed a spectacular rally this year, gaining in value by as much as 45 per cent in the first nine weeks of the year. It is currently up by 39 per cent on where it stood on 1 January, making Egypt's bourse one of the world's best performers so far this year.
"For the market to resume its winning streak, it should slacken for a bit before picking up again," Metwally explained. "That’s how it has always behaved."
The broader-based EGX70 index, meanwhile, fell by 0.76 per cent for the day to land at 475 points.
Out of 179 listed shares, 121 fell in value on Monday while 42 recorded gains. Big caps Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), Telecom Egypt (TE) and Commercial International Bank (CIB) fell by 0.89, 0.8 and 0.52 per cent, respectively.
Shares in telecom giant Mobinil were the day's most active, at LE48 million. They were also one of the few big shares to close the day in the green, climbing 0.35 per cent to finish at LE180 per share.
The mobile carrier is still riding the momentum caused by the anticipated ownership deal by which France Telecom plans to purchase all of the company's traded shares at LE202.5 each.
Non-Arab foreign investors represented the primary sellers in today's session, netting LE55.6 million and accounting for 22 per cent of the day's total turnover.
Arab investors, meanwhile, were the largest net buyers – at LE40 million – despite their accounting for only 10 per cent of the day's total trading.