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KARACHI: Stocks drif­ted aimlessly on Wednesday as lack of triggers kept value investors on the sidelines. The KSE-100 index retreated 299.76 points (0.76 per cent) to close at 39,303.11.

Absence of reports on the progress of International Monetary Fund talk and fears of economic slowdown eroded confidence of institutional and high net worth individuals, which provided a perfect breeding ground for day traders and punters to take short-term positions on the back of rumours and unsubstantiated news flow.

The market opened in the positive, but plunged 883 points in early trade largely due to whispers along the market corridors of negative news flow on Chinese support for balance of payment.

At midday, the index bounced back as jittery investors entered to pick up stocks at dirt cheap valuations. The buying was triggered ostensibly as the word went around of the reallocation of portfolio of Planning and Development to the Finance Minister Asad Umar and the government looking for his replacement among the several prominent names.

The consolation for the day was the plug in foreign outflows with foreign funds cherry picking stocks worth $1.69m. Mutual funds again were the major sellers of stocks valued at $4.92m, which a fund manager attributed to rebalancing prior to the year end.

Overall, trading activity remained dull with volume sliding 30pc to 138m shares. Traded value also declined 39pc and stood at Rs6.83bn. Stocks that contributed significantly included Lotte Chemical, Bank of Punjab, Maple Leaf Cement, K-Electric and Pak Elektron, reflecting 32pc of total volume.

According to analysts at Arif Habib Ltd, sectors contributing to index slide included banks, losing 97 points, cement 42 points, exploration and production 37 points, power 34 points and food 25 points.

Among scrips, Habib Bank was down 1.5pc, Pakistan Petroleum 0.6pc, United Bank 0.9pc, Pakistan State Oil 2.6pc, Hub Power 1.6pc, Oil and Gas Development Company 1pc, Engro Corporation 0.9pc, Pakistan Oilfields 1pc, MCB 0.7pc and Fauji Fertiliser 1.1pc.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018