CAIRO: Egypt’s stock market headed for another precipitous drop last week as fears of a punishing global recession stirred panic among investors and sent world financial markets into a tailspin.
Overall, Egypt’s benchmark CASE 30 index plunged 15.46 percent to close the week at 4,986.53 points, triggering a freeze in selling.
On Sunday, the index slipped 0.34 percent to 5,772.06 points in very light trade as investors waited for direction from foreign markets reopening on Monday. Trading turnover was worth LE 398 million ($71 million), between one half and one third of the usual average.
Index heavyweight Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) fell 1.26 percent to LE 243 per share, and regional mobile operator Orascom Telecom (OT) sank 6.04 percent to LE 33.76.
Giant property developer Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) declined 1.81 percent to LE 4.35, following the start of the trial of former company chairman Hesham Talaat Moustafa.
Moustafa pleaded not guilty on Oct. 18 to charges that he paid a former police officer $2 million to kill Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim in Dubai in July.
The market extended losses on Monday, triggered by a dip in OCI. The index declined 0.68 percent to 5,732.82 points on a low turnover of LE 534.8 million.
Shares in OCI – Egypt s largest listed builder – lost 2.63 percent to LE 241.70, after rising as high as LE 254.84 in early trade. OCI said on Monday it had secured a five-year loan for $736.5 million, and separately bought back the equivalent of roughly 1.6 million local shares.
“We see this as a positive development for OCI, as it will increase its leverage and increase the return on earnings (ROE) for investors, looking forward, investment bank Beltone Financial commented in a research note.
“The fact that OCI was able to secure this loan despite global turmoil indicates the solidity of the company and its financial health.
OCI posted the session’s highest turnover at LE 84.8 million. Sister company OT dipped 4.23 percent to LE 33.02.
Financial firms also lost ground, with Commercial International Bank (CIB) shedding 4.99 percent to LE 32.96 and investment bank EFG-Hermes dipping 3.36 percent to LE 27.02 per share.
The index plummeted Tuesday 2.2 percent to 5,608.96 points, as foreigners heavily sold in major Egyptian stocks. Trading turnover rose to LE 707.2 million ($126.6 million) albeit lower than usual.
Shares hardest hit were those with global depositary receipts (GDRs) listed in London, including OCI, OT and Ezz Steel.
OCI – the stock with the highest volume of trade – slumped 6.86 percent to LE 230.02 despite a late announcement that it would continue its share buyback program. OT – the second most heavily traded – skidded 8.53 percent to LE 31 a share, just off the year-low of LE 30 it hit on Oct. 12 during the worst of the global financial crisis.
Ezz Steel – hit by a sharp decline in the domestic price of steel for construction – bled 9.43 percent to LE 12.10.
Ministerial attempts to reassure investors, through appearances at a Euromoney Conference on Monday and Tuesday, failed to reverse the bearish sentiment that has taken over the market for weeks.
The market plunged 8.85 percent on Wednesday, as fears of a global recession continued to batter global stock markets. The index traded at 5,112.29 points on a very low turnover of LE 683.3 million ($122.28 million), led by double-digit drops in three heavyweight firms with GDR shares traded in London.
Shares of OCI – which posted the most heavily traded share by turnover for the fourth day in a row at LE 87.7 million – tank 12.17 percent lower to LE213. Egypt’s top investment bank EFG-Hermes stumbled 15.22 percent to LE 23.40, while shares of OT slid 10.96 percent to a year-low of LE 29.
Tracking global markets, the Egyptian market also saw sharp declines in property developer TMG which dove 19.95 percent to a fresh year-low of LE 3.41.
Shares of CIB dipped 5.59 percent to LE 31.10. El Sewedy Cables, which said it would delay a smelter project on the Red Sea coast citing market conditions, slipped 16.77 percent to LE 68.79 per share.
The firm has also said it would enter the wind energy sector and build wind turbines in Egypt with sales of ?434.6 million by 2011.
The index shed Thursday 4.22 percent to 4,896.53 points on renewed fears of a looming global recession that drove investors to dump emerging markets stocks.
Shares of Ezz Steel – Egypt s largest steel producer by sales – tumbled to their lowest in more than three years, weighing on Egypt s index. The stock, down more than 60 percent this year, plunged 9.83 percent to LE10.27 on Thursday, their sixth straight session of losses.
Housing shares also closed in the red, with Heliopolis Housing, losing 6.33 percent to LE 20.57 per share and SODIC dipping 13.84 percent to LE 63.