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KARACHI: The stock market remained in search of direction on Monday with the KSE-100 index closing about flat with slight setback of 26.12 points (0.07pc) at 38,924.11.

The market took off to a positive start on the assertion of Finance Minister Asad Umar over the weekend that the country would receive $4.1 billion soon. Fresh receipts were seen to be able to swell the foreign exchange reserves to over $12bn and the index recorded intraday gains of 196 points. But the positive effect soon wore off and market succumbed to selling pressure to touch intraday low by 74 points.

Investors were concerned over further weakening in macros and the delay in getting International Monetary Fund package. On the political side, there was a sense of relief over the de-escalation of hostilities with India, though the belligerent neighbour threatened to block Pakistan’s waters from its eastern rivers.

The Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) scrip came in for brisk trading at 2.6 million shares in the regular market and 6.3m in “off-market transaction”.

Rumours of foreign selling did rounds in the market all through the day. Figures released by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan showed foreign investors withdrawing with heavy selling of $7.31m worth shares. But the liquidity was successfully absorbed by local institutional participants with companies purchasing stocks worth $2.23m; banks raking up shares of $2.60 and insurance companies $3.83m.

Commercial banks were gainers while decline was noted in fertilisers and exploration and production sectors. Scrip-wise, major laggards were OGDC, down 0.63pc, Pakistan Petroleum 0.29pc, Pakistan Oilfields 0.38pc, Shell Pakistan 3.99pc, Shifa International 3.55pc, GlaxoSmithKline Pakistan 1.05pc and Searle Company 0.23pc. On the flip side, United Bank, up 1.28pc, Meezan Bank 1.98pc and MCB 0.32pc contributed towards mitigating losses.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2019