Stocks end flat as investors struggle to shake off IMF worries

Our Correspondent
Friday, Mar 31, 2023

Stocks closed flat on Thursday in a mixed trade, as investors remained cautious about consistent delays in signing of a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), traders said.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange's (PSX) benchmark KSE 100-share Index ended slightly lower by 31.54 points or 0.08 percent to 39,848.35 points against 39,879.89 points recorded in the last session. The highest index of the day remained at 40,005.07 points while the lowest level of the day was recorded at 39,797.68 points.

Brokerage Arif Habib Ltd said the PSX witnessed a mixed session on Thursday. “The benchmark KSE-100 opened in the green but traded both ways. Activity remained sluggish throughout the trading session,” it reported. “Investors opted to remain sideline on account of the impending delay in the signing of SLA between the government and IMF along with the prevailing political uncertainty affecting investors’ confidence.”

Volumes across the board remained decent, while the 3rd tier stocks stayed in the limelight. KSE-30 index also decreased by 4.34 points or 0.03 percent to 14,767.02 points compared with 14,771.36 points recorded in the last session. Traded shares dropped by 20 million shares to 88.701 million shares from 108.795 million shares. The trading value increased to Rs3.988 billion from Rs3.212 billion. Market capital narrowed to Rs6.093 trillion from Rs6.094 trillion. Out of 286 companies active in the session, 123 closed in green, 138 in red and 25 remained unchanged.

Muhammad Arbash, analyst at Topline Securities, said equities closed slightly negative where the benchmark KSE100 Index settled at 39,848 level (down 0.08 percent). The range-bound activity was witnessed at the bourse as the market made an intraday high of 125 points and a low of 83 points. He said investors had been cautioned over ongoing uncertain political and economic conditions.

MTL, PPL, and MEBL were the major positive contributors in the trading session cumulatively adding 55 points to the benchmark index. On the flip side, PSEL, TRG and DAWH were the major laggards in the trading session.

The highest increase was recorded in shares of Bata (Pak), which rose by Rs89.42 to Rs1,939.42 per share, followed by Ismail Ind, which increased by Rs36.15 to Rs518.26 per share. A significant decline was noted in shares of Nestle Pakistan, which fell by Rs126.10 to Rs4,977.40 per share, followed by Unilever Foods, which decreased by Rs102.33 to Rs17,900 per share.

Analyst Ahsan Mehanti at Arif Habib Corp said, “Stocks closed lower amid thin trade led by second and tier scrips on speculations ahead of Pak-IMF bailout agreement subject to due verifications.”

Investors' concerns about a likely surge in the central bank policy rate, political noise, and industrial closures had played a catalyst role in the bearish close, he added. Sectors contributing to the performance included miscellaneous (-37.9 points), technology and communication (-23.4 points), inv. banks /inv. cos./securities cos. (-12.8 points), fertiliser (-12.6 points), and food and personal care products (-8.8pts).

Telecard Limited remained the volume leader with 6.211 million shares which closed lower by 27 paisas to Rs7.63 per share. It was followed by Pak Elektron with 6.152 million shares, which decreased by two paisas to Rs10.58 per share.

Other significant turnover stocks included Engro CorpXD, WorldCall Telecom, Agha Steel Ind., K-Electric Ltd., Oil & Gas Dev., Bankislami Pak.XD, Maple Leaf and Pak Petroleum. Shares’ turnover in the future contracts rose to 179.582 million shares from 112.508 million shares.