Foreign buyers helped Egypt’s index recover some of the previous session’s losses that had been sparked by the country’s foreign reserves slumping to critical levels, while Gulf markets were mixed in uneventful trading ahead of the weekend.
An unstable political situation in Egypt and a deteriorating economy is weighing on local investor confidence, but foreign investors – net buyers of Egyptian equities during the ongoing turmoil – appear optimistic the situation will improve.
The Egyptian pound gained Wednesday for the second time in three days as authorities battled to halt a slide of its currency into crisis.
The currency has lost around 8 percent since the bank changed its currency regime in December to avoid an outright currency crisis and figures Tuesday showed Egypt’s reserves of dollars and other hard currency have fallen to $13.6 billion – enough to pay for less than three months worth of imports.
Cairo’s benchmark gained 0.2 percent, extending 2013 gains to 4.4 percent. It fell 1.8 percent a day earlier, bringing back bargain hunters.
National Societe Generale Bank rose 3.4 percent. International Bank climbed 0.7 percent and EFG-Hermes added 2 percent.
French bank Societe Generale agreed late last year to sell its 77 percent stake in NSGB to Qatar National Bank’s. The Qatari bank said it will offer to buy the remaining stocks for the same price as the deal under Egyptian market rules.
“It was more of a psychological rebound after the recent selling,” said Mohammad Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities. “There was talk on the street that QNB’s tender offer for NSGB might happen over the weekend, which helped the stock gain.”
Doha-listed QNB shares slipped 0.3 percent.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s bourse declined for the first day in last four as investors opted to book gains following an early-year equity rally. Emaar Properties, the Dubai Financial Market’s largest listed company, declined 0.4 percent, Dubai Islamic Bank and telecom operator du each lost 1.4 percent.
The index slipped 0.6 percent to finish at 1,860 points. It has fallen 1.5 percent this week, its first weekly decline of 2013.
The benchmark is up 14.6 percent in 2013, but is now stuck in a sideways trend, according to technical analysis.
“We are waiting for a retracement lower toward the 1,810 support level, or alternatively the break of the 1,890 resistance level, in order to reinstate ‘long’ positions,” MENA Corp. said in a note.
Abu Dhabi banks, buoyed by strong fourth-quarter earnings and expectations of healthy dividends, help boost the UAE capital’s index to a new 34-month high. It added 0.4 percent.
Heavyweights National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank climbed 1.4 and 0.4 percent respectively. Commercial Bank International, which rarely trades, jumped 8.3 percent.
Elsewhere, Qatar’s measure slipped 0.1 percent, easing from Wednesday’s four-week high.
United Development slipped 1.7 percent. The firm has offered to sell 99 percent of its shares in Turkey’s Enterprise Real Estate by March 5. It said in a bourse statement that if no purchase offer was submitted by that date, it will liquidate the company.