Egypt continues surge on currency devaluation MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS
Egypt’s stock market rose sharply for a third day yesterday in response to the devaluation of the Egyptian pound which has raised hopes for capital inflows, while higher oil prices boosted petrochemical shares in Saudi Arabia.
The Egyptian blue chip index jumped 5.4 percent in its heaviest trade since March, bringing its gains to 15.6 percent since the pound’s peg to the dollar was abandoned on Thursday. The broader EGX100 index added 2.5 percent. The devaluation has raised hopes for major inflows of foreign money into Egyptian markets in coming months. Regional investment bank Arqaam Capital said it was going overweight on Egypt in the wake of the devaluation.
It estimated $4.5 billion of foreign money - or about 16 percent of the stock market’s total capitalisation would flow into the market in the next year if foreign ownership of stocks rose to 25 percent, a normal level for an emerging market.
Arqaam said it favoured banks that would benefit from the 3 percentage point interest rate hike that accompanied the devaluation, such as Commercial International Bank (CIB) , and firms whose income would be boosted by a weaker pound such as Global Telecom. It said it was wary of companies that would have trouble passing on higher import costs to consumers, such as Edita Food Industries.
The increase in Egyptian interest rates will support banks’ profitability given their large exposure to shortterm government securities, Moody’s Investors Service said. CIB shares jumped 8.3 percent yesterday, while Global Telecom surged 7.7 percent and Edita climbed 7.9 percent.
Despite the market’s euphoria, Wafik Dawood, portfolio manager at Cairo-based Compass Capital, said stocks’ rise would not be one-way. “The market is re-rating assets, pricing in the weaker pound, but the trend is likely to be challenged by the super 300 basis point hike in interest rates,” he said. “This will attract money because of the carry trade, but borrowers will be hit.”
He added that while the long-term picture looked positive, there would be short-term volatility. “Until there is hard evidence of fund inflows sticking around long enough, markets will be unable to unlock their true potential.”
Saudi Arabia’s index climbed 1.5 percent, taking its gains since hitting a 2016 low on Oct. 3 to 14.4 percent. The market has been surging since Riyadh’s $17.5 billion foreign bond issue last month eased concern about government finances and banking system liquidity. Al Rajhi Capital said improving liquidity and a slight decline in Saudi interbank money rates had encouraged investors to return to stocks. Petrochemical producers were buoyed by a 1.2 percent rebound in Brent oil futures, with the sector’s index climbing 1.8 percent.
The retail sector outperformed, extending Sunday’s strong gains. Apparel and mall operator Fawaz Alhokair gained 2.9 percent. But food producer Savola Group, which has business lines in Egypt, dropped 0.3 percent after saying the devaluation of the Egyptian pound would hit its fourth-quarter results by 171 million riyals ($45.6 million).