Trading is muted ahead of weekend's protests but main index sees modest gain (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's stock market shrugged off misgivings about revived political protests planned for the weekend to see a surge of interest in major firms on Thursday, helping the main index see its first gains in a week.
The benchmark EGX30 edged up 0.7 percent to close the week at 4,708 points. The market reopened on Tuesday after a four-day holiday, charting two sessions of losses before Thursday's modest upswing.
"Citadel and OCI gave a boost to the market but there's not much value in terms of trade. Everyone is waiting to see what happens next politically," said Taymour El-Derini of Naeem Holdings brokerage.
Egyptian leftist and liberal political groups plan mass demonstrations in the country's major cities on Friday to demand the ruling military hand over power to civilians. They are also protesting alleged attempts by Mubarak-regime figures to re-enter electoral politics, something activists have dubbed a ploy to steal Egypt's revolution.
Turnover was a mild LE310 million ($51.3 million), with almost a third tied up in a block-trade for Juhayna Food Industries, one of Egypt's major comestible producers.
Non-Egyptian Arabs were the day's main saviour, buying a net total of LE88.76 million of stocks. Foreign investors, however, continued their retreat, offloading a net LE110.5 million.
From the day's 174 listed stocks, 129 posted gains and just 34 declined with the rest holding their value. The broader EGX70 gained a yet-greater 1.33 percent.
The solid performance of Egypt's largest firm, Orascom Construction Industries, which climbed 1.36 per cent played a major part in bolstering the main index.
Also instrumental were Ezz Steel, which gained a mighty 4.07 percent, and Citadel Capital, up nearly 6 percent.
Mobile operator Mobinil, boosted recently after news of an imment France Telecom takeover, saw trading on its stocks halted following a request by the exchange for its unaudited financial results.
"[Investors] are not expecting [Friday] to be violent. But people are waiting for news on the constitution and the progress of presidential elections," El-Derini said.
If the weekend's protests pass peacefully they may even lift the market slightly, analysts have said. Trading volumes, though, are likely to remain low while uncertainty about who will form the next government remains.