Egypt stocks see surge ahead of announcement of new president (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s stocks made surprising gains on Sunday as investors betted on a peaceful outcome to a bitterly divisive presidential election, whose results were due just a half-hour after the exchange closed.
The country's interior ministry declared a state of high alert on Sunday, and several government institutions cut short their working hours. Some foreign embassies also closed their days, while private nurseries and schools suspended activities.
Yet these fears had little affect on Egyptian stocks, with the benchmark EGX30 surging a mighty 3.34 per cent by the end of the day to record 4,165.8 points.
The main index fell to a five-month low on Tuesday, and has tumbled 17 per cent since the presidential elections began in late May.
"Investors decided to take the risk and buy," says Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, head of institutional sales at Arabeya Online, a Cairo brokerage.
"Choosing a president can promise stability and calm whoever it is, prompting a hike in the market after it made major losses. Many want to benefit from this possibility if it takes place."
In the end, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was named Egypt's first freely elected head of state in a decision that prompted jubiliant scenes on the capital's landmark Tahrir Square.
Fears of violence from disgruntled supporters of the losing candidate have so far not come to fruition.
Turnover on Sunday was relatively low by post-revolution standards -- some LE190 million ($31.4m).
From the day's 168 listed stocks, 147 gained in value and 12 declined with the rest holding steady.
Domestic investors and Arabs were net-buyers, recording net flows of LE24.98 million and LE1.38 million, respectively.
Foreign investors, meanwhile, continued their selling streak and sold LE26.36 million more than they bought.
The telecoms sector led the market in terms of turnover, making up around a third of total market activity.
Egypt's largest listed firm, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), closed the day up 2.47 per cent.
Fellow blue chips Orascom Telecom Holding, Mobinil and the Commercial International Bank saw impressive surges of 3.77, 6.44 and 3.24 per cent respectively.
Real estate firms saw substantial gains too, with Palm Hills Development soaring 8.39 per cent and the Talaat Moustafa Group up 6.84 per cent.