UPDATE 1-Egyptian pound strengthens slightly at central bank dollar sale

Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:28am EDT

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(Adds Monday's black market price)

CAIRO, March 31 (Reuters) - Egypt's pound strengthened marginally against the dollar at a central bank dollar sale on Monday after weakening at the previous two sessions, and also firmed slightly on the black market.

The central bank sold $38.3 million to banks with a cut-off price of 6.9575 pounds, compared with Thursday's 6.9576 pounds.

Dollar shortages have been fuelling a thriving black market. A trader on the parallel market said the dollar traded at 7.39 pounds on Monday, up slightly from Sunday's rate of 7.40. The dollar traded at 7.42 pounds on the black market on Thursday.

The pound has been under pressure during three years of political turmoil. Egypt's foreign currency reserves stood at about $17.3 billion pounds in February, down from $36 billion before the uprising that led to the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak's in 2011.

The central bank introduced dollar currency sales more than a year ago. In January, it held a $1.5 billion exceptional auction, its largest, to restock the market with dollars and curb unofficial currency trading. (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Pravin Char)

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