As Egypt burns, investors rethink priorities

Any company with a business connection to Egypt is suffering in the markets today.

By Jim J. Jubak Jan 28, 2011 2:55PM
Jim JubakThe news from Egypt and the Middle East is trumping everything else in the financial markets now.

The situation continues to worsen in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has imposed a 6 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew in the cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria in an attempt to suppress a challenge to his 30-year-old regime. (The Associated Press, citing Egyptian state television, is reporting that the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic party is on fire and that the curfew has been extended nationwide.)

The government has shut down Internet and mobile phone service in effort to disrupt communications among the loosely organized opposition and to limit the transmission of video of the protests and police attacks on protesters. The fourth day of protests began shortly after the end of Friday prayers.
Of course, the shares of any company with a business connection to Egypt are being pummeled. For example, Apache (APA), which has onshore oil operations in Egypt, is down 2.7% as of 12:15 EST after falling 4.8% Thursday.

Post continues after video:

But the fear in the market isn't limited to Egypt. Remember that the protests now sweeping Egypt earlier brought down the government of Tunisia. Protests have spread to include Yemen. And, of course, the big worry on Wall Street is that they may grow to include the autocratic regimes that control the bulk of oil in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

That's why oil futures are going wild today. Brent crude was up 1.7% and West Texas Intermediate was up 4.2% as of noon in New York. (Oil stocks are also up -- if they don't do business in some scary place. Oasis Petroleum (OAS), which pumps oil in the United States, is up 3.3% this morning.)

And, as happens in most crises, investors have sought the safety of the U.S. dollar (and the Swiss franc) and precious metals. The dollar is up 0.7% against the euro. Gold has climbed 1.6%, and silver is up 2.9%. (Agnico-Eagle (AEM) is up 2.8% and Silver Wheaton (SLW) is up 3.4%.)

With the dollar climbing and investors rushing for safety, commodity stocks and the shares of recent stock market winners are taking a beating. (Well, given the unpredictability of events, who would want to be long over the weekend?) BHP Billiton (BHP), for example, is down 2.4%, and Vale (VALE) is down 3%.

At the time of this writing, Jim Jubak didn't own shares of any companies mentioned in this post in personal portfolios. The mutual fund he manages, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), may or may not own positions in any stock mentioned. The fund did own shares of Agnico-Eagle, BHP Billiton, Oasis Petroleum, Silver Wheaton, and Vale as of the end of December. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of the most recent quarter, see the fund's portfolio here. 

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11Comments
Jan 28, 2011 5:05PM
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TGFD here.

 

George 1951...The uproar in Egypt is not about "the poor on the backs of the middle class" or about democratically-minded people being "fed up with their government and leaders."

 

What Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, and the Ivory Coast are all now experiencing is a strengthening of radical islam. Radical islam smells blood in the water and weakness, and it is seeking to topple any government it can. The muslim brotherhood and the iranian gov't are deeply involved in Egypt's current crisis, and if you think that this whole thing is about democratic ideals, then you are in a state of serious denial.

 

All you read or hear about  in the media concerning the uproar in the middle east makes no mention of radical islam. All it talks about is democracy.

Jan 28, 2011 4:28PM
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I think this is just the begining of global unrest that will spread as citizens get fed up with their

government and leaders.

Jan 28, 2011 4:30PM
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Here in the US the support of the government and the poor is on the backs of th middle class.

Makes you wonder how long they will continue to take this abuse.

Jan 28, 2011 5:59PM
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I sincerely hope that our leaders here in the US are seriously taking note of what is happening in the Middle East.  The unrest started as the result of high commodity prices causing food cost for the working class to soar, eating most of their income for survival.  The Islamic Extremist are good at capitalizing on the misery of the poor and uneducated and winining the masses over to their side.  Radical Islam knows that the soft underbelly of the US and most governments is economic disruption; if they gain control of the Middle  East oil fields they will have successfully brought us to our knees financially.  Once oil goes above the $100 a barrell mark there will be no stopping it from $200 and gasoline will reach $5-$6 a gallon, totally disrupting any perceived recovery.

 

Right now our elected officials need to open the oil spigot here in the United States, drill and stock pile as much oil as possible.  We have enough untapped oil for at least 100 years which will giveus time to develop alternative energy sources and choke off the funding to Islamic Extremist in the Middle east who use our own oil purchase money against us.  Will our government take the necessary actions?  Remembr WWll was fought over expansionism for raw materials of oil, rubber and tin; are we looking at the start of WWlll? 

Jan 28, 2011 5:22PM
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TGFD again.

 

If Egypt doesn't make it through the weekend, and if radical islam announces its intent to form a new government there, then the european, US and other world financial markets are in for one huge drop at Monday's opening bell. Too late to sell now. The Dow could open 500 points down, or more.

 

I wouldn't put in an order now to sell at Monday's open. The market-making crooks on Wall Street will eat your portfolio for breakfast. 

Jan 28, 2011 10:10PM
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History is about to repeat itself.  Remember Iran and the Shah.  He was ousted by people wanting a more democratic ideals and our country and Jimmy Carter did nothing to help that to happen. Then the radical Muslims stepped in and seized the country.  The Muslims are committed to taking over the world by force.  The Europeans and the West (including the United States government still thinks we can talk reasonably with them.  We have a President who is even more clueless than Jimmy Carter and not wanting to upset the Muslims.  We cannot afford to let the radical Muslims control the countries in the Middle East.  This is a situation that needs decisive action NOW, not two days from now.  We need to step in quickly to make the region stable before the Muslim Brotherhood seizes the opportunity.  The Middle East needs immediate attention NOW.  This crisis could spread quickly and lead to another World War.  I pray our President will act quickly or we are going to find ourselves surrounded by hostile radical Muslim countries.

Jan 28, 2011 6:28PM
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@ jones73 - Care to support your claim that the U.S. has 100 years' supply of untapped oil?
Jan 29, 2011 9:00PM
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 Until this happened I never knew the US gave Egypt 25 billion a year in aid. gee I wonder why the USA has so much debt
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I think it is time we go with Natural Gas and coal, of which our country has the world's richest reserves.  Back in the 70s, during the gas shortage newspapers touted Illinois as having enough coal to run our (1970s) cars for the next 200 years.

 

Passing through Wyoming a couple years ago, we saw a train every 15 minutes leaving the coal fields to the Midwest and eastern seaboard.   We have a beautiful picture of evening sunlight shining off the sides of the coal cars as they go around a butte.   Looked like a string of pearls on a woman's neck.  Beautiful sight.

 

China uses our coal and Canadian coal by the train loads.  We should be using this resource for ourselves first. 

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To someone (also sick)

 

I read we gave Egypt $1.2 billion US each year since Jimmy Carter's Camp David accords for their military support.

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Hmmmm,

 

   Don't worry President Hosni Mubarak will just call up his buddies in the IDF in Israel and have them send over enough troops to get the Egyptian population under control. After all Israeli troops now how to keep the Palestinians under control. A few air strikes with naplam like they did on HAMAS in the gaza strip will show the protesters who is boss.

 

This is no big deal just the under class running amok and looting.

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