Egypt stocks record modest gains on Thursday
Ahram Online, Thursday 13 Dec 2012
EGX30 gains 0.09 per cent despite heavy losses in banking sector and concerns about upcoming constitutional referendum

Egyptian stocks ended the week in green despite predictions the current constitutional faceoff would send the market down.

The benchmark EGX30 rose by 0.09 per cent to 5,162 by the end of Thursday's session. The broader-based EGX70 index registered gains by almost 1.24 per cent.

Out of 167 traded stocks, 120 registered gains while only 22 suffered losses, with Egypt's largest publicly traded company, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), rising by 0.42 per cent.

"The market's performance today was rather weak, and any future predictions largely depend on the outcome of the referendum on Saturday," Issa Fathy, vice president of the securities division at Cairo's Chamber of Commerce, told Ahram Online.

"Investors are still distrustful of the political situation and this is apparent in the constant fluctuations of the stock market," explained Fathy.

Total turnover reached almost LE470 million by the end of today's session, indicating that trade volume is finally starting to recover from the record-low rates since President Morsi's controversial constitutional decree.

Foreign investors were net sellers for the day, offloading LE57 million of shares, while contrary to the general tendency this past month, Egyptian and Arab investors were net buyers, buying stocks worth almost LE40 million and LE17 million respectively.

"Foreign investors being net sellers on Thursday indicates they were able to take advantage of yesterday's gains contrary to their Egyptian counterparts," asserted Fathy.

The banking sector unexpectedly suffered heavy losses, with the National Societe General Bank (NSGB) registering a 9.94 per cent fall and Commercial International Bank (CIB) tumbling by 3.69 per cent.

Recent news of Qatar National Bank's (QNB) $2 billion offer to buy almost 77 per cent of the Egyptian unit of the French bank Societe General, was expected to help the banking sector's performance.

"The banking sector's decline is quite normal as the recent QNB offer that NSGB approved was almost $200 million below the previously announced value, thus sending NSGB's stock down," said Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, head of institutional sales at Cairo-based brokerage Arabeya Online.

The rest of the sectors, including real estate, construction and telecom all recorded gains.