MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt sinks after Cairo blasts; Dubai property shares up again

Thu Apr 3, 2014 10:15am EDT

Related Topics

* Deadly bombing worries Egyptian retail investors

* But presidential election in May could spark rally

* Deyaar, other property stocks lift Dubai

* Ex-dividend stocks drag down Abu Dhabi

* Commercial Bank of Kuwait jumps on Islamic plan

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, April 3 (Reuters) - Egypt's bourse, which witnessed heavy profit-taking this week, came under pressure again on Thursday after explosions in Cairo killed two people including a senior police officer, while the local currency and economic data weakened.

The Cairo benchmark tumbled 2.9 percent to a six-week low of 7,701 points, with most constituent shares in the red and some dropping steeply, such as Telecom Egypt which fell 8.6 percent.

"What happened yesterday was big," said Chamel Fahmy of Cairo-based HC Securities and Investment, referring to the deadly blasts outside Cairo University which triggered a fresh wave of selling by retail investors.

Egypt's stock market surged earlier this year on expectations that former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, seen by many investors as a stabilising figure, would run for president. His official candidacy announcement last week caused many investors to lock in gains.

However, Fahmy said, investors are likely to start making fresh positive bets in the run-up to the presidential election set for May 26-27 - which Sisi is expected to win easily.

"The closer we get to the presidential election, the more people will ignore what is going on in the street," he said.

"I am not extremely negative on the market, I think that by next week some buyers will emerge."

Also contributing to the negative backdrop on Thursday was the slowly weakening Egyptian pound, which hit a six-month low against the U.S. dollar, and a purchasing managers' survey showing that economic activity slowed last month.

But some investors were still snapping up shares in large trades, a sign of how much the market has normalised since the depths of 2013.

GB Auto chief executive Raouf Ghabbour sold 10 percent of his stake in the company to Egyptian and other Arab investors for 454 million Egyptian pounds ($65 million), market sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Ghabbour owned around 37 percent of GB Auto's shares as of end-December, according to Thomson Reuters data. The company's stock - which is not included in the main index - closed flat at 37.00 pounds.

DUBAI

Dubai's bourse rose 0.9 percent to a fresh multi-year high on the back of property stocks.

Developer Deyaar jumped 11.8 percent as its shareholders were due to vote on allowing non-Gulf foreign investors to buy up to 25 percent of its shares. The company has yet to disclose the results of the meeting.

According to the bourse, Deyaar currently allows only investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to buy its stock. The shares are still far from recovering their mid-2008 levels despite the rebound of Dubai's property prices.

Emaar Properties, which was up 0.5 percent at 10.10 dirhams on Thursday, already trades above its levels in September 2008, when local stocks plunged because of the global financial crisis and Dubai's real estate crash.

In Abu Dhabi, several stocks going ex-dividend, including telecommunications operator Etisalat which fell 2.1 percent and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank which lost 2.6 percent, dragged the index down 0.6 percent.

In Kuwait, Commercial Bank of Kuwait, the Gulf state's fifth largest lender by assets, jumped 6.3 percent after saying a majority of shareholders had approved a plan to convert the bank into a full-fledged Islamic lender.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

EGYPT

* The index fell 2.9 percent to 7,701 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.9 percent to 4,618 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index slid 0.6 percent to 4,923 points.

QATAR

* The index climbed 0.4 percent to 11,984 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index added 0.2 percent to 9,558 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.03 percent to 7,572 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 1,367 points. (Additional reporting by Ehab Farouk in Cairo; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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