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Politics

Egyptian stock market plunges

Traders in Egypt have apparently reached for the panic buttons, with the EGX stock market down by around 9.5 percent in Sunday morning trading. Security forces announced overnight attacks in the Sinai border province.

The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) stock market plummeted on Sunday, with only an enforced 30-minute break in trading slowing the decline.

As of 1 p.m. local time (1100 UCT), the market's value shrank by 9.53 percent - not a single stock was listed as having increased in value on the EGX's English-language website. The market was closed minutes after opening, a failsafe measure triggered after a 5-percent plunge, but continued its slide when trading re-started.

Sunday's session was the first since President Mohammed Morsi issued a declaration limiting the power of the judiciary, sacking the prosecutor general, and increasing the weight of any future presidential decrees.

The changes prompted criticism from the country's Supreme Judicial Council, a strike among judges in Alexandria, as well as public protests on the streets of Cairo and other cities. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei described the decree as "dictatorial" and said it gave Morsi the powers of a pharaoh.

Cairo calmer, attacks in Sinai

Cairo and its Tahrir Square focal point were comparatively quiet on Sunday after two days of major protests, with opponents to Morsi's latest moves saying they planned to resume their demonstrations in earnest on Tuesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on its members to take to the streets on Sunday to show their support for Morsi. One of the changes announced by Morsi on Friday removed the judiciary's right to disband parliament, as it did two days before the presidential election Morsi won in June. The Brotherhood is the most powerful party in parliament, which was reopened only after a tug of war between the president and the judiciary.

Authorities also said on Sunday that two security buildings in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were bombed by militants overnight, reporting three people injured. One attack targeted a border crossing with the Gaza Strip at Rafah, while the other hit at a security firm responsible for guarding a pipeline sending gas to Jordan, according to security sources speaking to news agency Reuters.

In August, suspected militants attacked a border checkpoint in Rafah, killing 16 soldiers. The mountainous desert peninsula borders Israel, and Egypt's new rulers are still working to secure the area after last year's upheaval when former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

msh/mz (dpa, Reuters)