KARACHI: The stock market closed last day of the week marginally higher after a volatile trading session.
Stocks kicked off trading on a positive note as the benchmark index sailed through the 34,000-point level on gains in Engro Corporation and financial institutions.
The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index ended Friday’s trading with a rise of 0.15% or 50.72 points at 33,993.
“Engro (+2.1%) continued its euphoric growth to close at Rs294.74 and formed the backbone of the market,” said JS Global analyst Mohammad Mobeen.
The cement sector remained under pressure following the announcement of DG Khan Cement that it would build a $300-million, 2.5-million-ton plant near Karachi as investors feared that the expansion would mean an end to the cartel.
This, coupled with the increase in global coal prices, sparked heavy selling in cement shares, Mobeen said.
Oil and gas stocks initiated their recovery following a slight rebound in global crude prices. “We recommend investors to remain cautious and buy fundamentally strong stocks on dips,” he said.
Faisal Bilwani, an analyst at Elixir Securities, said that the mood in the market turned sour soon after the news flashed details related to the DG Khan Cement’s south plant with panic selling pushing cement stocks lower.
Lucky Cement (-0.8%), Maple Leaf Cement (-2%), Fauji Cement (-2.2%) and DG Khan Cement (-3.7%) ended in the red with some recovery as the panic subsided.
“However, we see investors to trade very cautiously in coming days on fears of a price war among cement-makers,” Bilwani said.
“We expect a volatile market with investors eagerly waiting for Lucky Cement’s board meeting before making any decision on existing holdings or taking advantage of the current weakness.”
The benchmark is expected to hover near 34,000 with stock-specific interest in names that announce earnings next week. “We like NBP, UBL, Bank Alfalah, Nishat Chunian Power and PTCL,” he concluded.
Trade volumes rose to 261 million shares compared to 240 million on Thursday.
Shares of 360 companies were traded. Of these, 190 declined, 153 closed higher and 17 remained unchanged. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs15.6 billion.
Jahangir Siddiqui and Company was the volume leader with 28 million shares, gaining Rs0.82 to close at Rs22.28. It was followed by Pak Elektron with 24.2 million shares, gaining Rs0.96 to close at Rs60.66 and Pakistan International Airlines with 16.2 million shares, losing Rs0.34 to close at Rs9.91.
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs514 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2015.
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