Mounting Egypt unrest to send stocks sharply lower

EUROPEAN stock markets are all expected to trade lower on the open this morning, following the heightened turmoil witnessed in Egypt over the weekend.

GFT is quoting the FTSE 100 index to open down 49 points from Friday’s close, at a level of 5,932. Elsewhere in Europe the German Dax is called down 32 points at 7,070, and the French CAC is quoted down 27 points to open at 3,975.

REGIONAL SELL-OFFS
Regional stock markets in the Middle East were suffering major sell-offs yesterday, with the Dubai stock exchange down almost seven per cent soon after opening.

The concern will be whether the violence will spread further afield around the Gulf region, potentially even leading to the disruption of oil supplies.

The situation seems almost to be spiralling out of control, and when you have instability like that in a region as tumultuous as the Middle East, investors get nervous about the implications and the potential for derailing the economic recovery.

Brent Crude oil was trading just shy of $100 a barrel on Friday, and the rise in energy prices generally over the last quarter will benefit the likes of BP, which coincidentally announces full year results tomorrow.

DIVIDENDS REINSTATED
Investors should see a dividend reinstated, with the whisper suggesting seven cents a share – equivalent to a £3bn distribution, or roughly half what it was before the oil spill last year. Rival Shell follows with its figures on Thursday.

Martin Slaney is director of GFT’s global dealing operations