KARACHI: The stock market continued to bleed on Thursday due to fresh political dampeners including the arrest warrant issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and Sharif family’s expected indictment by an accountability court on Friday.
Low trading volumes and major losses in prominent index names also pulled the KSE-100 index down with oil and gas exploration and production sector being the standalone gainer due to increase in global crude prices for the third consecutive day.
At close, the benchmark KSE 100-share Index registered a decline of 266.15 points or 0.66% to finish at 40,237.53 points.
According to Elixir Securities, Pakistan equities closed the fourth consecutive session negative on trimmed losses as recovery in the final 90 minutes helped erase some early declines that had pulled the benchmark index to test a new intra-day low since October 2016.
“After a positive open, the market was pulled into the red territory with cement stocks leading the losses due to concern over further price discounts by manufacturers in northern regions of the country,” it said.
Maple Leaf Cement (-4.9%) hit limit down despite the company’s announcement of commencement of operation at its 40-megawatt coal-fired power plant while DG Khan Cement (-2.6%) and Lucky Cement (-1.2%) also weighed on the index.
Sentiments were again dampened midday after the Election Commission of Pakistan issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Oilfields (+5%) continued to buck the wider market downtrend as investors came to terms with preliminary reserves’ estimates of its new discovery (Jhandial – Ikhlas block) which were relatively greater in size compared to the company’s existing reserves.
“We see a directionless market tomorrow (Friday) with politics being a dampener as ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his family members are expected to be indicted by an accountability court on corruption references,” the report added.
JS Global analyst Maaz Mulla said the market witnessed another volatile session as the benchmark index hit an intra-day high of +288 points and a low of -669 points to close at 40,237 (-266 points).
Volumes slightly improved to 138 million shares as compared to 129 million in the previous trading session. K-Electric (+0.32%) led the volume charts with 13 million shares changing hands.
“This volatility in the market is likely on the back of investor scepticism about the political scenario . Selling pressure caused decline in the cement sector where heavyweights Lucky Cement (-1.20%), DG Khan Cement (-2.45%), Pioneer Cement (-4.66%) and Maple Leaf Cement (-4.80%) closed in the red territory,” he said.
In the banking space, mixed sentiments were witnessed as Bank AL Habib (+0.12%) and Habib Bank (+0.20%) moved up whereas National Bank of Pakistan (-3.16%) and MCB Bank (-1.52%) shed value. International Steels (-2.15%), Amreli Steels (-3.61%) and International Industries (-3.66%) in the steel sector closed in the red zone.
Pakistan Oilfields (+5%) closed at its upper circuit in the oil and gas exploration and production sector as it continued to draw investor interest in its new oil and gas discovery in the Ikhlas block.
“Moving forward, the political scenario is expected to continue to affect the stock market. We recommend investors to stay cautious and avoid short-term positions,” he added.
Overall, trading volumes rose to 137 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 129 million.
Shares of 395 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 73 stocks closed higher, 306 declined while 16 remained unchanged. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs6.12 billion.
K-Electric was the volume leader with 13.5 million shares, gaining Rs0.02 to close at Rs6.30. It was followed by TRG Pakistan with 8.21 million shares, losing Rs0.95 to close at Rs33.34 and Fauji Foods (R) with 7.31 million shares, losing Rs0.55 to close at Rs16.50.
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs522 million during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.