Egypt stocks fall following church bombings

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Egyptian stocks fell on Sunday, hurt by bomb blasts in the country, while most other Middle East stock markets also ended lower as geopolitical tensions weighed on investor sentiment.

Some of the Middle East markets started the day in positive territory as higher oil prices briefly offset concerns about a US missile strike on a Syrian air base, but lost momentum as the day progressed.

The Egyptian index closed 1.55 percent lower with Commercial International Bank Egypt down 1.5 percent and Egyptian Iron and Steel losing 4.4 percent.

“This was an immediate (market) reaction to the terrorist attack,” Ahmed Abu Taleb, head of sales at Pharos Securities in Cairo, said.

At least 43 people were killed and more than 100 injured in bomb attacks on two Coptic churches on Palm Sunday in Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta, in the latest assault on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants.

Abu Taleb said the Egyptian stock index has traded between 12,800 and 13,400 points for the past three months, but he added prospects for the market are brighter due to a stable currency, increasing flow of tourists and inflation that is expected to peak.

“At the macro level things are looking okay, slightly improving,” he said.

Egyptian stocks are still up nearly 4.5 percent this year as confidence has returned to the market after the country let the currency float freely last year. In 2016, Egyptian stocks surged 76 percent.

“Markets are looking at more fundamental triggers such as forthcoming earnings, rather than politics, as the Syrian conflict has been going on for a while and is unlikely to end soon and markets have already absorbed this risk,” said Nishit Lakhotia, head of research at Manama-based Securities & Investment Company B.S.C.

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