KARACHI: Stocks operated within a narrow band on Wednesday with the KSE-100 index closing just 13 points (0.03 per cent) in the negative at 38,022.80.

Investors took a cautious stance amid concerns on likely of slowdown amid surging inflation as the country prepares to implement International Mone­tary Fund’s proposed pre-conditions for the bailout.

Pressure continued to be exerted on the rupee. Investors wondered if the manufacturers would be able to pass increase in energy and gas tariff to consumers and protect bottom lines in the face of demand and economic slowdown.

Lack of positive triggers drove investors to safe havens, represented by the surge in the price of gold. Reports of a new amnesty scheme which the finance minister hinted at were met by a cool response, partly as the previous one had hardly garnered the desired public interest.

After an initial increase of 83 points, market turned choppy with the intraday index movement in the range of high by 83 points and low up to 181 points. The volume increased 6pc over the earlier day to 153.2 million shares. Cement sector added 46 points on the back of unconfirmed news of increase in prices in Northern region, in addition to a two-year low coal prices.

Sector-wise, exploration and production managed to finish with gains of 77 points. Banks could not attract buyers despite the State Bank policy rate hike the previous Friday. Fertiliser saw decline in prices on the back of news of government importing urea, adding to the woes of local manufacturers.

Major contribution to the index downside came from Habib Bank, decreasing by 1.6pc, MCB 1.6pc, Fauji Fertiliser 0.8pc, Hub Power 0.4pc, United Bank 1.0pc, Bank Al Habib 0.2pc and Dawood Hercules 0.05pc, cumulatively scrapping 93 points. On the flip side, Pakistan Petroleum rose by 0.7pc, Oil and Gas Develop­ment Company 1.8pc and Pakistan Oilfields 2.2pc.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2019