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KARACHI: The Pakistan Stock Exchange started the week on a positive note, with the benchmark KSE 100-share index rising 288 points, or 0.6 per cent, to close at 48,698 points.

Bulls tossed the index up by 348 points to an intraday high of 48,758 points early in the session. But the index pared gains later on as profit-taking was witnessed in an extremely thinly traded session.

The second half saw interest skewed towards blue-chip names, with contribution to the upside coming from Habib Bank which rose 1.8pc, Hub Power Company 1.7pc, Searle 3.0pc, Mari Petroleum 3.7pc and MCB bank 1pc; they added 161 points to the index in aggregate.

On the flip side, Pakistan Oilfields dropped 1.79pc, Bank Al Habib 1.69pc and Pakistan State Oil 0.68pc, taking away 33 points off the index.

The volume of shares traded during the day dropped 37pc to 135 million shares while their value plummeted 64pc to Rs6.1bn.

It represented the dominance of second- and third-tier retail favorites — K-Electric, Aisha Steel Mill, and Bank of Punjab — with the scrips whipping up combined turnover of 32m shares. All told, 31 stocks closed on their upper circuit while only eight closed on their lower limit.

Pakistan Oilfields’ share fell as international oil prices struggled near their lowest level since the end of November on rising US shale production. In the refinery sector, Pakistan Refinery Ltd rose 4.92pc to close near its upper cap.

Analysts at JS Global said that the rally was witnessed in the banking sector where big banks closed in green.

Moreover, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd closed 0.84pc higher on the back of reports that the government was planning to seek fund allocation in the upcoming federal budget to finance new gas supply schemes.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017