Reuters – Egyptian shares rose on Tuesday after an unconfirmed media report suggested defence minister Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi would soon launch his bid for the presidency, while Qatar took a hit as heavyweight Industries Qatar traded ex-dividend.
Egypt’s Al Shorouk newspaper reported Sisi would officially announce his resignation from his current post on March 17; it cited an unidentified source close to the armed forces. It said Sedki Sobhi, armed forces chief of staff, would replace Sisi.
“If this happens, it will open the way for Sisi’s run for the presidency,” said Islam Batrawy, Cairo-based head of regional equity sales at NBK Capital. Sisi is the favourite of many Egyptian investors, who see him as the best guarantor of political stability and economic aid from the Gulf.
“The market however lacks depth from institutional investors, and that won’t change until there is clarity on elections and economic visibility,” Batrawy added.
He said currency repatriation problems and fears of a further devaluation of the Egyptian pound were still keeping foreign investors away.
Cairo’s benchmark index rose 1.7% to 8,109 points, just shy of a 66-month peak touched earlier in March.
In Doha, the benchmark index retreated 1.7%, ending a three-session gaining streak.
Large-caps lost ground with Industries Qatar the main drag; it tumbled 7.1% after passing the date on which shareholders qualified for a 2013 cash dividend of 11 riyals.
Overall sentiment was also weak after Qatar dismissed calls by its Gulf neighbours to change its foreign policy.
The foreign policy of Qatar, which has backed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, is “simply non-negotiable”, the official Qatari news agency quoted Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah as saying in a speech in Paris.
Last week Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar over the issue; Attiyah’s remarks may indicate a resolution to the dispute is not near.
Profit-taking picked up pace in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai’s measure lost 1.4%, trimming its 2014 gains to 21.4% and slumping to its lowest closing level in four weeks.
Dubai Islamic Insurance & Reinsurance (Aman) dropped 1.7% after credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowered its rating of the company to ‘BB+’ from ‘BBB-’ with a negative outlook. It said a loss posted by Aman at the end of last year had impaired its capital adequacy.