Egypt's stock market open for business again and shares are fighting back

Egypt's stock market resumed trading after being forced to suspend minutes into the open

's stock exchange reopened for the second time today after it was forced to suspend trading minutes into trading as investors raced to sell shares in stocks.

The market shed nearly 10 per cent of its value at the opening bell after a lengthy hiatus of nearly two months aimed at calming investor nerves did little to keep the army of sellers at bay.

Most stocks on the market dropped in value seconds into trading, forcing the market to suspend trading for half an hour. Shares in big blue-chip companies including

Construction Industries, Telecom Egypt and Commercial International Bank of Egypt all slumped 10 per cent almost instantaneously.

But, Orascom Telecom bucked the trend when the market reopened again and rose 4.4 per cent to 3.78 Egyptian pounds.

Fund managers expect it will take several days of trading before investors begin snapping up undervalued stocks.

Sebastien Henin, a portfolio manager at The National Investor said he expects "massive" volumes on the stock market.

"Blue chip will eventually be very resilient after a few days; it won't be a bloodbath," he said. "But we still don't have visibility and investors love visibility," Mr Henin added.

The stock exchange has delayed a promised reopening several time times since it was closed at the outset of protests that eventually toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

Weeks of planning and debate among brokers, investors, the stock market regulator and exchange officials have culminated in several attempts to limit the shock of reopening.

The Egyptian government and the stock market clearing house were moving ahead with an 850 million Egyptian pound (Dh524.9m) support package for exchange to limit the shock of a dramatic fall in stock prices at the open.

The stock market regulator said earlier this month it was easing rules on margin calls by brokerages to limit volatility, but the impact was short-lived during trading today.

"At some point we will see people hover around certain stocks but I cant see people will be actively buying anything today," said Julian Bruce, director of equity sales at EFG Hermes in Dubai.

Some market commentators have suggested investors will begin to snap up bargain stocks that fall more than 10 per cent in value, though it will take a few days for this to happen.

Blue-chip stocks including Orascom Construction and Commercial International Bank are seen to benefit from buying later in the week when they could emerge as good value for money stocks.

Officials from the exchange last night decided to retain previously announced index circuit breakers that suspend trading after a certain period of time.

The market will be suspended for 30 minutes if it reaches the 5 per cent limit and would again be suspended on reaching the 10 per cent limit for a period to be specified by the head of the exchange, a Zawya Dow Jones report said.

By opening its stock market, Egypt reduces the chance of possible omission from the MSCI Emerging Market Index, which is tracked by thousands of fund managers and directs foreign investment into the country.

Under MSCI rules, consultations to have a country removed from its indexes can be instigated if the exchange in question remains shut for more than 40 consecutive working days. Wednesday represents the 38th business day since the Egyptian Exchange shut its doors.

The EGX 100 slumped more than 20 per cent in the days leading up to the closure.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS