Egyptian Bourse, Banks Will Be Closed Today, State TV Reports

The Egyptian bourse will be closed today following clashes yesterday between thousands of protestors and police in central Cairo, the fifth day of unrest. Banks also will be shut, State TV said.

The North African country’s benchmark stock index had tumbled 16 percent in the prior two trading days, and Egypt’s dollar-bonds fell, pushing yields to record highs on Jan. 28. Fitch Ratings said it may cut the nation’s credit rating. The exchange is North Africa’s second-largest market by capitalization after Morocco.

“No one expected this to take place and at such a fast sequence of events,” said Mohamed Radwan, head of international sales at Cairo-based Pharos Holding for Financial Investment. “The critical time frame for the market is from now until the implementation of economic and democratic reforms demanded by the people.”

Soldiers backed by armored carriers and tanks are guarding banks and government buildings in the capital that are vulnerable to looting. More than 100 people have been killed in Egypt in recent days, Al Arabiya television reported yesterday, citing unidentified security officials.

The government of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif resigned today at Mubarak’s request. Omar Suleiman, the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, was sworn in yesterday as vice president, state TV said today.

Stocks worldwide fell the most since November on Jan. 28 and crude oil posted the biggest jump since 2009 as the protests grew. Demonstrations in Egypt began five days ago, inspired by the ousting Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14. Tunisia’s bourse has been closed since. Yesterday, Saudi Arabian shares retreated the most since May.