KARACHI: Adhering to its norm, the stock market once again turned bearish on Thursday after recording gains a day earlier as profit-booking in key stocks pushed the benchmark index below 43,700 points.
The KSE-100 Index maintained a steady descent throughout the day as volumes remained thin. Investors chose to book profits and retreated to the sidelines during the trading session.
A slump in global crude prices led the oil sector to a lower close. Other sectors that dragged the index down were cement, engineering and power generation.
At close, the benchmark KSE 100-share Index recorded a drop of 416.62 points or 0.94% to finish at 43,679.87 points.
Elixir Securities' analyst Zainul Abedin said Pakistan equities closed negative with the benchmark index settling below 43,700 on profit-taking in index names.
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"The day kicked off on a negative note with oil stocks denting the KSE-100 in early trade as investors tracked overnight losses in global crude. Sentiments later turned sour in the cement sector as Cherat Cement (-5%) announced lower-than-expected core earnings," the analyst said.
Another key announcement came from Engro Fertilizers (+1.6%) which notched up modest gains after the company posted earnings in line with expectations, but surprised investors with a higher cash pay-out.
Financial stocks skidded lower on relatively subdued activity with index-heavy MCB Bank (-2.4%), Habib Bank (-0.9%) and United Bank (-1%) contributing to the decline.
In the food category, Unity Foods (+4.8%) announced the start of operations at its edible oil refinery that sent the stock skyrocketing to its upper price limit.
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"Volatility is likely to prevail in the coming session, however, we advise investors to take advantage of the current weakness and build positions in value plays with financial stocks topping our liking," the analyst said.
Overall, trading volumes fell to 246 million shares compared with Wednesday's tally of 269 million.
Shares of 370 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 117 stocks closed higher, 237 declined while 16 remained unchanged. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs9.5 billion.
The Bank of Punjab was the volume leader with 16.6 million shares, losing Rs0.46 to close at Rs9.72. It was followed by Fauji Foods with 16.1 million shares, gaining Rs1.09 to close at Rs23.06 and Unity Foods with 14.1 million shares, gaining Rs1.30 to close at Rs28.49.
Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs272 million during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.