Market Report: Egyptian stocks rally for third day

Ahram Online, Tuesday 29 Mar 2011

Rises continue as telecoms and construction trade high and firms facing investigation suffer

(Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's stock market closed up 3.01 per cent on Tuesday, marking the third consecutive day of gains, while trading was temporarily halted on several stocks on the broad index when they advanced on the 10 per cent maximum fluctuation allowed by emergency rules.

The EGX30, Egypt's main index, made strong early gains before a marked dip in the second hour of trade. It quickly rallied, edging up 158.13 points to reach 5,409.43 by the closing bell.

The broader EGX100 climbed 2.47 per cent. Total market turnover was LE960,998,323.

An improved performance added to guarded optimism among commentators and renewed calls for an easing of emergency measures imposed by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA).

"It's something positive that the market is going upwards but we have to be cautious about who is buying," says Walaa Hazem, vice president for asset management at HC Securities & Investment, who warns of the danger of 'hit and run' investors rather than those interested in building long-range investment portfolios.

He believes emergency measures should be eased by next week.

The EGX30 closed up 0.75 per cent on Monday, surrendering much of its early-day gains after a half-hour freeze prompted buyer reassessments.

Several analysts have hailed this week's trading results as giving a more realistic suggestion of future market performance. Of listed stocks, 129 saw gains, 46 declined and seven were unchanged.

Among stocks suspended for a half-hour were those of property company Palm Hills Developments, which closed down 9.94 per cent. Its losses were mirrored by other shares in the sector.

The day's biggest loser was Ezz Steel, whose chairman is a high profile former party official under investigation for corruption. Temporarily frozen, shares fell 9.98 per cent by closing.

Also halted were shares in Egypt's Commercial International Bank which neared 10 per cent in early trade before finishing at 6.42 per cent. It is one of several financial stocks whose large gains have surprised analysts who see performance in the sector related to confidence in the wider economy.

"Financial companies are doing better than expected," says Hazem. Trades in this sector made up 21 per cent of market turnover.

Orascom Telecom shrugged off yesterday's dip to climb 9.52 per cent after announcing plans to split the company and raise capital on the back of a merger with Russian telecoms giant Vimpelcom. Mobinil, Orascom's mobile operation, rose 4.91 per cent.

The building materials and construction sector generally traded up, with Orascom Construction rising 5.68 per cent and South Valley Cement gaining 9.80 per cent by end of play.

Traders said institutional investors remained particularly active in the market, with Egyptian investors clinging to the sidelines amid continued volatility and unease about the country's political direction.

Foreigners were again active, accounting for 44.6 per cent of trading.

Bourse chairman Mohammed Abdel-Salam announced at a midday press conference that officials would meet later on Tuesday to discuss when to lift or ease emergency measures.

"Maybe we will not stop all the circuit breakers, or these procedures, but maybe it will return back to normal, step by step," Abdel-Salam told journalists.

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