Market watch: Blue chips under pressure amid thin volumes

Index closes below the 18,000 mark after falling for five straight sessions.

Our Correspondent March 07, 2013
Trade volumes fell to paltry level of 185 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 341 million shares. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Karachi bourse witnessed another volatile session where the index heavyweights pulled the market to close below the 18,000-level, when the index had been forestalling the fall for fivstraight sessions. The stock market had been under pressure due to the worsening security situation in the city and upcoming elections.

The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index lost 0.04%, almost flat, or 7.54 points to end at the 17,992.91 point level. Trade volumes fell to paltry level of 185 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 341 million shares.

“The marginal fall from the previous close pulled the market below 18,000 on relatively thin volumes. Index heavyweights, the Oil and Gas Development Company and MCB Bank, dragged the index to close below the psychological level,” reported Harris Batla, analyst at Elixir Securities.

The value of shares traded during the day was Rs5.64 billion.

Cements, on the other hand, continued to generate interest over rumours of an increase in cement prices, while hopes of attaining the generalised system of preferences from the EU kept institutional interest alive in the textile sector. Lafarge Pakistan and Fauji Cement fetched 19% of the total volume, said Samar Iqbal, dealer at Topline Securities.

According to AKD Research, the combined profits of the cement sector in the first six months of fiscal 2013, clocking in at Rs16.6 billion, equal the combined profits of the industry for the whole preceding year.

Moreover, after staying in red for most of the day, Attock Refinery recovered sharply in the later session as investors remain bullish over an increase in deemed duty – custom and surcharge duties on import of oil – for the refinery industry. This mechanism favours local refineries as they will get extra margin on the production of light diesel oil and kerosene.

Lafarge Pakistan was the volume leader with 21.99 million shares gaining Rs0.27 to finish at Rs6.16. It was followed by Fauji Cement with 13.15 million shares gaining Rs0.1 to close at Rs8.33 and Jahangir Siddiqui and Company with 10.28 million shares losing Rs0.46 to close at Rs15.16.

Foreign institutional investors were buyers of Rs181.93 million and sellers of Rs302.54 million, according to data maintained by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.

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

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