KARACHI: The stock market remained under pressure as the bourse continued its downward journey for the third successive session on Thursday.
In the morning, the KSE-100 index opened on a positive note as the National Assembly passed the second supplementary finance bill. However, the gains proved short-lived as the index retreated into the red zone amid a lack of positive triggers.
Investors accumulated stocks in the auto sector as the government removed all restrictions on vehicle purchase by non-filers of tax returns.
At the end of trading, the benchmark KSE 100-share Index recorded a decrease of 274 points, or 0.69%, to settle at 39,294.10.
JS Global analyst Maaz Mulla said the market experienced a lacklustre session on political noise.
Market watch: KSE-100 extends bearish run, loses 120 points
The National Assembly approved the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government's second mini-budget, lifting restriction on the purchase of locally assembled cars by non-filers of tax returns and extending super tax indefinitely, said Mulla.
Consequently, the auto sector closed higher than its previous day's close where Indus Motor (+5%), Honda Atlas Cars (+5%) and Pak Suzuki Motor Company (+5%) closed at their respective upper circuits.
In the exploration and production sector, Pakistan Petroleum (-1.1%) and Oil and Gas Development Company (-2.2%) closed in the red zone as crude oil prices edged lower in the international market.
"Going forward, we expect the market to remain range bound and recommend investors to book profit on strength."
Market watch: Stocks return to negative run, close slightly down
Overall, trading volumes increased to 83.2 million shares compared with Wednesday's tally of 81.4 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs3.8 billion.
Shares of 347 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 103 stocks closed higher, 224 declined and 20 remained unchanged.
The Bank of Punjab was the volume leader with 8.5 million shares, losing Rs0.16 to close at Rs13.84. It was followed by Siddiqsons Tin Plate with 5.7 million shares, losing Rs0.47 to close at Rs20.25 and Lotte Chemical with 5.4 million shares, gaining Rs0.22 to close at Rs15.02.
Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs128 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.