Stocks retreat in jittery week

Updated October 20, 2019

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The KSE-100 index declined 606 points (1.76 per cent) and closed at 33,870.
— AFP/File
The KSE-100 index declined 606 points (1.76 per cent) and closed at 33,870. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The two-week winning streak was snapped in the outgoing week as market remained shrouded in uncertainty over the outcome of Financial Action Task Force plenary meeting and the sabre rattling by a political party that has vowed to hold Azadi March to Islamabad on Oct 31.

The KSE-100 index declined 606 points (1.76 per cent) and closed at 33,870.

Although Pakistan managed to stay out of the dreaded black list, the FATF decision announced on Friday was not altogether encouraging as the country was retained in the grey list and cautioned by the watchdog to take ‘extra measures’ for ‘complete’ elimination of terror financing and money laundering, by February 2020.

The International Mone­tary Fund on Wednesday projected the country’s primary deficit to turn positive 1pc in FY21 from -0.5pc in FY20 but said the debt levels were likely to remain elevated at above 65.4pc until FY24.

Investors also remained cautious as the result season is in full bloom with still-to-arrive announcements from cyclicals, steel and cements that are generally thought to display poor performance.

On the political side, the gathering storm over the opposition parties’ collision left investors in a state of uncertainty on the turn of events leading to the commencement of anti-government campaign from Oct 27.

Foreign selling continued in the outgoing week, clocking-in at $2.1 million compared to net sale of stocks worth $4.2m the earlier week. Foreign outflow was noted from commercial banks at $3.4m and exploration and production $1.0m. On the domestic front, major buying was reported by individuals at $8.4m and banks/DFIs at $5.4m whereas brokers offloaded stocks worth $5.14m.

Average daily volume declined by 51pc over the earlier week to 140m shares while the mean traded value clocked in at $30m, down 47pc. Leaders included Lotte Chemical with trading in 18.39m shares, Engro Fertilisers 7.92m, Bank of Punjab 7.77m, TRG Pakistan 5.35m and Unity Foods 4.07m.

Sector-wise positive contributions came from fertilisers, higher by 99 points, food and personal care products (15 points, and chemicals 14 points while those dragging down the index included banks, decreasing by 279 points and cement 89 points. Exploration and production lost 78 points as all main stocks, Pakistan Petroleum, Mari Petroleum, Pakistan Oilfields and Oil and Gas Development Company closed in the red.

Market performance in the upcoming week would be determined mainly by developments on the political front where the government and opposition are preparing for a showdown on Oct 27. Investors may also remain cautious over FATF decision going forward as the watchdog would review Islamabad’s efforts to address the outstanding issues on money laundering and terror financing by February 2020 to avoid the blacklist.

The financial results would also impact investors’ sentiments as they would be watching out for their profitability and payouts. Major companies expected to release earnings include Engro Corporation, Meezan Bank, Fauji Fertiliser Bin Qasim, OiL and Gas Development Company, DG Khan Cement and Nishat Mills.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019