Market watch: Stocks lower as politics rears its head

Investors stick to sidelines as fears of turbulence overtake optimism.

Our Correspondent January 07, 2013
Trade volumes shrank further to 96 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 99 million shares.

KARACHI: The stock market started trading for the week on the back foot, as investors booked profits and trimmed positions on fears of political turbulence in the days ahead.

“Pakistan equities closed the first day of week negative, as politics keeps investor’s focus away from fundamentals,” observed Faisal Bilwani, an analyst at Elixir Securities. “Volumes were thin, with participants following developments as the Supreme Court heard a case against the leader of a political party with a strong hold in the country’s financial capital.”

“Volumes also remained on the lower side, as investors wish to re-enter the market once the dust settles down on the political front,” added equity dealer Samar Iqbal, who is associated with Topline Securities. “Small capped [stocks] again remained in the limelight.”

The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index lost 0.88% or 146.19 points to end at the 16,502.65 points level. Trade volumes shrank further to 96 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 99 million shares. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs2.41 billion.

“The index, after making an intraday low of 1.3%, managed to recover slightly after the dismissal of the contempt of court case against MQM chief Altaf Hussain, and ended the day down by 0.9%,” said JS Global analyst Shakir Padela. “As investors chose to remain on the sidelines, major activity was seen in second- and third-tier stocks.”

Jahangir Siddiqui and Company was the volume leader with 11.93 million shares losing Rs0.46 to finish at Rs14.88. It was followed by Byco Petroleum with 8.65 million shares losing Rs0.32 to close at Rs13.47 and Maple Leaf Cement with 7.71 million shares gaining Rs0.19 to close at Rs14.67.

“News of Engro Fertilizer increasing urea prices by Rs20 per 50 kilogramme bag to offset the increase in gas prices brought Engro Corp in the limelight; however, the stock closed down, in line with the market direction,” reported Bilwani. “DAP maker Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim closed down on weekend news of a gas supply cut to its plant, despite the market expecting a better-than-consensus bottom-line and payout.”

“Askari Bank moved upwards today after rumours that its acquisition price was being set considerably higher than the current market price,” added Padela.

Foreign institutional investors were buyers of Rs210.76 million and sellers of Rs79.51 million, according to data maintained by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.

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