Rumours helped fuel the day's rise in high-cap stocks, say traders (Photo: AP)
Egypt's main index extended its gains on Wednesday as reports of high-profile international deals for Orascom Telecom and EFG-Hermes prompted a late-session rally in high-cap stocks.
The benchmark EGX30 started the session in the doldrums but rallied in the second half, closing 1.1 per cent up at 5,040 points. But overall losers outnumbered gainers, causing the broader EGX70 to slip 0.19 per cent.
"The market was powered by rumours today," said Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, head of institutional sales at Cairo-based Arabeya Online Securities.
"There was news of an Algerian government evaluation for Djezzy [the mobile phone unit owned by Orascom Telecom] but no official confirmation. Trading in that stock was suspended but the positive sentiments affected other major shares."
Early on Wednesday afternoon, reports emerged that Algeria had agreed to pay $6.5 billion for a controlling stake in Djezzy, potentially ending a dispute that has dragged for over a year.
OT's stocks failed to benefit, however, after the Cairo exchange froze trade awaiting further details on the deal. The suspension may have saved OT from the impact of a court-decreed fine of $1.3 billion for another of its Algerian subsidiaries.
From the day's 173 listed stocks, 68 gained in value and 81 declined. Total turnover was LE475.74 million ($78,778), a modest but significant climb on the unusually low figures of hte last few weeks.
Also boosting market sentiment was news from Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes that it had agree a takeover of Dubai-based jeweller Damas in collaboration with Qatari conglomerate the Mannai Corp.
The report helped build interest in stock already riding high after Monday's news that EFG-Hermes and Qatari investment bank QInvest are in talks to tie-up their securities brokerage, asset management and investment banking operations.
By the end of the day and despite LE49.2 million in trade, however, its stock value remained unchanged.
More mobile was Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, which saw the day's heaviest trade -- some LE83.65 million, or nearly a fifth -- and gained 3.55 per cent.
Other high-cap winners were Orascom Construction Industries, up 1.66 per cent, the Commercial International Bank, up 2.5 per cent and the Talaat Moustafa Group, which edged 0.72 per cent.
Doing less well were Juhayna Food Industries, which slipped 0.67 per cent, and mobile carrier Mobinil, down 0.21 per cent.
Individual investors made up around two-thirds of the day's trade. Foreigners, who stepped up their involvement on Tuesday, retreated a little to account for just over a fifth of turnover.
The recent uptick in turnover and stock values comes as Cairos sees heightened political tensions in the run up to presidential elections in May.
"We have a problem with the constitution," Omar Ascar of Cairo Capital Securities told Reuters. "Everyone is withdrawing and the Muslim Brotherhood still wants to proceed with a majority in this committee. We don't know what will happen."
The political wrangling has drawn investor attention away from positive corporate news in recent days, but the exchange has seen at least some benefits.
"Those talks have brought some relief in the market. They prove that people are still interested in this country," said Ascar.