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Tue 22 Jan 2008 09:17 AM

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Egypt index suffers sharpest single-day decline

Case 30 index tumbles 4.2% as foreign investors worried about global markets, dump Orascom Telecom.

Egypt's benchmark stock index posted it sharpest single-day drop in more than 18 months on Monday as foreign investors, worried about drops in global markets, dumped Orascom Telecom.

The Case 30 index tumbled 4.2% to 9,964.54 points, wiping away gains from a rally in late December. The index has shed about 5.5% since the beginning of the year.

Fears that a sliding US economy could drag others down with it have hammered global equities, helping pull MSCI's benchmark index of world stocks to below its 2007 low.

"Today foreigners are net sellers," said Hashem Ghoneim, chief executive of El Nour Securities. "If selling pressures continue at these levels that is worrying."

Shares of Orascom, the fifth largest Arab mobile operator by market value, tumbled 7.4% to 78.12 Egyptian pounds ($14.15), their sharpest single-day drop in more than a year.

"Orascom is the most vulnerable stock when it comes to international actions," said Mohamed Radwan, head of international sales at Pharos Securities. "It's the most heavily weighted stock on any Egypt index."

Housing stocks also tumbled as drops in the largest companies spooked retail investors. United Housing tumbled 8.1% to 16.23 pounds and Cairo Housing 9.6% to 20.61 pounds.

"It's all about sentiment," Radwan said. "When you see the leader of the market being smashed, it does not increase your appetite and bearish sentiment just spreads among retailers and local funds."

Egypt's well-watched Hermes index fell 4.1% to 88,813.13 points and the broader CIBC index shed 4.9% to 416.25 points. (Reuters)

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