Egypt ETF Tumbles as Violence Escalates

Shares of the Market Vectors Egypt ETF (NYSE:EGPT), the lone ETF devoted exclusively to the North African nation, are off three percent today and currently hovering near the lows of the day on news of escalating violence in the country.

On Sunday, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi declared a state of emergency covering the the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. Egyptian armed forces have been deployed to two of those cities in an effort to stop bloodshed that has lead to 50 deaths over the past five days.

The violence and the ensuing tumble for EGPT come almost exactly two years after the Arab Spring revolution that lead to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. EGPT spent much of February and March 2011 trading between $17 and $19 before plunging to around $12 in August of that year. The ETF would fall below $10 in November 2011.

For much of 2012, EGPT moved higher even in the face of regional strife. For example, EGPT closed higher on September 11, 2012, the same day protesters stormed the a U.S. embassy in Cairo. However, domestic tensions eventually caught up to the ETF, sending the fund plunging in late November after Mursi revoked the power of Egypt's judges.

Renewed political tensions in Egypt come just weeks after the country's currency, the pound, plunged against the U.S. dollar due to Egypt's dwindling currency reserves. Those headlines forced Egypt's central bank to ratio availability of U.S. dollars, which merely sent Egyptians in pursuit of euros.

Predictably, violence in Egypt is giving investors second thoughts about EGPT. The ETF flirted with $15 during the third quarter, but is now vulnerable to a move below support at $12. Should support at $12 not hold up, a logical destination for EGPT would be its June 2012 lows below $10.

Additionally, outflows from EGPT have been noticeable. The ETF had $55 million in assets under management on September 11, 2012. That number fell to $36.3 million on December 31 and was $35.4 million as of January 25, according to Market Vectors data.

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