Major stocks slip into red, others see scattered gains (Photo: AP)
Egypt's major stocks took a further dip as trading restarted on Sunday, weighed down by an increasingly intense race for the country's presidency and disappointing news for high-cap firms.
The EGX30 fell 2.17 per cent to close at 4,722 points in what was the fourth consecutive session of losses for the benchmark index. The broader EGX70, which lists smaller and more speculator-friendly firms, edged up 0.13 per cent.
"The presidential race and battles over the constitution are making the outlook gloomy for investors and pushing the market into decline," Eissa Fathy, vice president of the securities division at Cairo's Chamber of Commerce, told Ahram Online.
The weekend saw large-scale protests in central Cairo in support of Abu Ismail, a Salafist presidential hopeful whose candidacy may yet be derailed following allegations over his mother's nationality. The presidential race was further complicated on Sunday when former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman put paid to weeks of speculation and entered the contest.
Market turnover was a thin LE239.1 million ($39.6 million), around a third of the level analysts have called a healthy average. From the day's 171 listed stocks, 50 gained in value and just over 100 declined.
Foreigners were the day's net-sellers. Making up 12 per cent of the total market and dominated by institutional traders they offloaded LE27.5 million in stocks by the closing bell.
"Foreign investors are looking at the political scene and reducing their positions," said Fathy.
Until recently a solid performer, Orascom Telecom Media and Technology saw the day's highest turnover -- some LE47.27 million -- but finished the day 1.44 per cent down.
All but four of the market's 30 largest stocks followed suit, with Orascom Telecom taking the heftiest losses, some 5.88 per cent, following delays in a long-awaited deal over its Algerian mobile phone unit. Also weighing on sentiment was a recent Algerian court ruling ordering the firm to pay $1.3 billion due to breaches in foreign exchange regulations. OT is appealing the decision.
Investment bank EFG-Hermes also saw its stocks lose a solid 1.71 per cent after it reported a 63 per cent drop in 2011 net profits on Sunday as Middle East uprisings took their toll on brokerage, investment banking and asset management revenue.
Egypt's largest listed firm, Orascom Construction Industries, slipped 1.82 per cent -- a performance mirrored by other market stalwarts, Ezz Steel (down 2.39 per cent) and TMG Holding (down 2.13 per cent).
Smaller stocks, by contrast, saw healthy gains. Egyptian individuals, who make up the majority of the sector's trade, bought a net total of LE19.5 million in shares.
Gharbia Islamic Housing Development, was the day's bigger winner, up 7.53 per cent by the close of play.