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An Egyptian anti-government protester celebrates in Cairo's Tahrir square on February 12, 2011, a day after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster from 30 years in power. (PATRICK BAZ/Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
An Egyptian anti-government protester celebrates in Cairo's Tahrir square on February 12, 2011, a day after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster from 30 years in power. (PATRICK BAZ/Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

Market Blog

Egypt portfolio crashed? Forget about it Add to ...

In case you were kicking yourself for missing out on the spike in the world's only international Egypt ETF , here's another reason to shake your head.

Egyptian regulators are considering cancelling all transactions that led to a 14 per cent drop in the country's benchmark index on January 27, amid political unrest. The market has been closed ever since.

More related to this story

The exchange was supposed to reopen on February 20, but that may not happen either, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Individual shareholders, who account for almost half of all trading on the Egyptian Exchange, jammed into a meeting in Cairo with stock exchange officials yesterday, demanding changes in regulation and management. Officials said they were studying scrapping transactions from the last day of trading and will delay the planned opening for at least a third time.

Many international investors are puzzled by the move. Surely political risk is part of the equation when one assesses stock market risk?

In the meantime, Egyptian shares trading abroad are falling amid uncertainty. Global depositary receipts of Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's biggest publicly traded builder, are down 2.5 percent. GDRs of Commercial International Bank Egypt SAE, the country's biggest publicly traded bank, slid 4.1 percent. That Market Vectors Egypt Index ETF, which has climbed 13 percent since January 27, dropped 2.1 percent yesterday.

Is there a precedent for this? U.S. stock exchanges cancelled trades for the May 6 Flash Crash last year, when a sale of futures contracts set off a chain of selling that hit stocks and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down as much as 9.2 percent. They scrapped about 20,800 trades, which amount to a fraction of the volume on a typical trading day.

Still wondering about Egypt? In case you're considering investing abroad, here's some Globe Investor reading that should help outline the risks and rewards that await you:

  • Emerging profits don’t require emerging markets
  • Tread carefully when investing in developing countries
  • Learning to value emerging markets and higher risk stocks
  • Related contentBeware the ‘bolt out of the blue’
  • Investing abroad: Should I stay or should I go?

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