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Egypt's Mubarak Asks Cabinet to Resign

Stocks in this article: EGPT

Article updated with news of Mubarak's television appearance requesting the resignation of his government's Cabinet.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appeared on television Friday for the first time since riots calling for his ouster broke out earlier this week and asked his government's Cabinet to resign.

According to published reports, Mubarak didn't mention stepping down himself and expressed support for the efforts of security forces to disperse the protesters, saying he was "on the side of freedom."

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Cairo and other parts of Egypt as the anti-government riots raged on despite the overnight curfew imposed by Egyptian officials. The military is working with the police to enforce the ban.

The latest reports from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times said the ruling party headquarters in Cairo had been burned down by protesters defying the curfew. The New York Times said an attack on the U.S. embassy in the country had been thwarted.

Egyptian protesters shout in front of anti-riot policemen who block a bridge in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged both the government and protestors to put a stop to the mounting violence.

"We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters, and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces," Clinton told reporters at the State Department.

The protests that began as passive marches throughout city streets on Tuesday have grown violent as security forces responded to the massive crowds with rubber bullets, tear gas and water hoses.

Demonstrators are hoping to bring down Mubarak's 30-year rule over Egypt. Opposition leaders in Egypt declared Jan. 25 as a "Day of Rage" to protest the lack of political freedoms under Mubarak's reign, but the demonstrations have escalated into aggressive riots.

Egypt's stock market benchmark index plunged more than 10% on Thursday, in response to the nationwide turbulence. The market is down 21% over the past year.

In U.S. trading, the Market Vectors Egypt Index (EGPT) dropped 4.6% on Thursday.

The index fell 6% to 6,138 points on Wednesday and then dropped 10.52% on Thursday to 5,646 points, its lowest level in over six months.

Officials temporarily suspended trading during Thursday's session when the market tumbled 6.25% in just 15 minutes, in hopes to settle investor fears. However, the index continued to drop when trading resumed.

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