|22 September, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Protests drag down Egyptian indexes to multi-year lows

Egypt's main stock index lost more than 3% in early trading on Sunday and trading was suspended in at least 35 shares for 10 minutes after they fell by over 5%

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, December 3, 2015.

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, December 3, 2015.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO- Egypt's stock indexes EGX 30 and EGX 100 plunged to multi-year intraday lows on Sunday after protests broke out in Egyptian cities over the weekend.

The blue-chip index dropped 5.3% in its biggest single-day fall since mid-2016 as all its stocks slipped into the red.

Commercial International Bank dropped 4.2% and Eastern Co was down 5.7%.

The broader index EGX 100 slumped 5.7%, the most since November 2012, with 95 of 100 stocks dropping, causing trading to be suspended due to a 5% swing for the first time since 2016.

On Friday, hundreds of people protested in central Cairo and several other Egyptian cities against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption.

"It is definitely due to the small escalation over the weekend, which is making investors cautious,” said Ashraf Akhnoukh, director at Arqaam Capital in Cairo.

The sellers were mostly locals and Arab investors as foreign investors were not trading on a Sunday, he added.

The blue-chip index is still up 7.1% year-to date and has risen during the year on the back of foreign buying amid an economic recovery and a recent interest rate cut.

Saudi Arabia's index closed 0.3% higher, extending its gains for a third day. Saudi British Bank gained 3.2%, while Saudi Basic Industries was up 0.7%.

Saudi Arabia's stock market is due for a fourth tranche inclusion in FTSE Russell and second and final tranche entry into S&P Dow Jones emerging market indexes on Monday, which are expected to attract billions of dollars in passive funds.

Saudi stocks initially joined the two indexes earlier this year.

Qatar's index closed 0.6% down, with the Gulf's largest lender, Qatar National Bank, losing 2.1% and Ooredoo dropping 2.7%.

In Dubai, the index slipped 0.1%, down for a fourth straight day. Blue-chip developer Emaar properties  fell 1.4% while its unit Emaar Malls dropped 2.1%.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff and Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Dale Hudson) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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