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KARACHI: Stocks slu­mped on Wednesday with the KSE-100 index sinking by 337 points (0.77per cent) to close at 43,353.

While foreign investors’ selling in the preceding two sessions sat heavily on the investors’ mind, disconcerting factors on the political front further clouded sentiments.

The news of US referring Pakistan for the terrorist watch list through Financial Action Task Force (FATF) caused panic among investors, who reckoned the threat as the first step towards putting sanctions on Pakistan.

“Although in reality FATF clearly maintained that it does not have powers to impose sanctions on any country, yet the fear factor was enough to push investors towards taking negative bets across the board”, stated Arif Habib Securities.

Reports of the National Accountability Bureau asking the Ministry of Interior to place former Nawaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL) also worried investors of the heating up of political environment.

Foreign funds sold shares worth $1.8 million. Market volume inched up 1.6pc over the previous day to 207m shares while the average traded value rose 2.8pc to Rs7.78 billion. Stocks contributing significantly to the volumes included Unity Foods, Fauji Fertiliser, K-Electric, Worldcall and Azgard Nine representing 25pc of the aggregate turnover. The laggard sectors were cement, decreasing by 112 points, oil and gas marketing companies 54 points, fertiliser 47 points, pharmaceutical 37 points and exploration and production 27 points.

The top decliners were Lucky Cement, down 2.4pc, DG Khan Cement 4.2pc, Searle Company 3.9pc, Sui Northern Gas 2.9pc and Pakistan State Oil 2pc, together erasing 129 points whereas Habib Bank, up 3.4pc, United Bank 1.8pc, MCB Bank 0.2pc, Jubilee Life Insurance 3.4pc and Allied Bank 0.9pc added 146 points. Heavyweight banking shares again closed in the green as investors were encouraged to take positions on the back of Tuesday’s news of Supreme Court’s decision fixing the minimum rate of banks’ pension at Rs8,000 with retrospective effect.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018