MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
insurance costs surged to 18-month highs on Monday and its dollar bond prices fell sharply. Two more Egyptian state banks said yesterday they were raising interest rates on their three-year savings certificates to 12.5 percent from 10 percent, bringing the number of banks doing this to four. Investors think this could be a prelude to a devaluation, a domestic interest rate rise or possibly both. The central bank has not clarified its intentions, leaving investors uncertain.
Property firm Palm Hills Development plunged 6.3 percent and investment firm Qalaa Holdings lost 4.4 percent. Commercial and International Bank sank 6.2 percent. There were rises for a few companies that might benefit from a weaker currency. Exporter Suez Cement gained 3.5 percent while Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling Co rose 6.2 percent after a 10 percent leap on Monday.
Qatar, usually among the most stable of Gulf markets, dropped 2.0 percent in a broad-based sell-off. Petrochemicals and metals producer Industries Qatar sank 2.4 percent. Saleh Mohammed Al-Nabit, Qatar’s Minister of Development Planning and Statistics, said in a speech on Monday that the government must urgently consider reforms to its subsidy and tax systems in light of low oil and gas prices. He also said the government had to be more disciplined in spending. Wealthy Qatar is in no danger of running out of money, but top officials’ comments since last week have