Cement sector helps stocks avoid heavy losses

Updated March 31, 2020

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The slump in international crude prices to 17-year low as well as bearish performance of regional stock exchanges exerted selling pressure at the PSX. — AFP/File
The slump in international crude prices to 17-year low as well as bearish performance of regional stock exchanges exerted selling pressure at the PSX. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Trading at the market remained choppy with the KSE-100 index opening in the negative and dropping to intraday low by 642 points. The slump in international crude prices to 17-year low as well as bearish performance of regional stock exchanges exerted selling pressure at the PSX.

However, a recovery after that saw the benchmark index close with a minor loss of 86.18 points (0.31 per cent) and finally settle at 28,023.39.

Concerns regarding the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country gripped the market with fear. Besides the loss of human life, investors worried over the global economy that was already in recession and the local one which appeared to be under strong pressure.

Reports of closure of industrial undertakings “for the time being” was seen as causing a major hit to production and company bottom lines. But due to significant price reductions during the latter half of the outgoing month, investors hoped for a reduction in monthly inflation number.

The volume declined 6pc to 159.4 million shares, from 169.5m while traded value also edged lower 0.3pc to reach $25.4m, as against $25.6m.

Sectors contributing to the performance included exploration and production, dipping by 133 points, banks 95 points, tobacco 19 points while cement rose by 136 points, power 47 points and pharma 12 points.

Cement came out as the winner as reports of the prime minister hinting at announcement of a possible relief package for the real estate sector, in his speech later that night was taken as a major positive. DG Khan was up 6.8pc, Maple Leaf 7.4pc, Lucky 6.8pc, Fauji 7.7pc, Pioneer 7.5pc and Cherat 7.5pc closed near to their respective upper circuits.

Pressure was witnessed in banking and exploration and production where major losers were United Bank, down 1.9pc, MCB 1.1pc, National Bank 3.7pc, Bank of Punjab 3.8pc, Pakistan Petroleum 6.7pc and Oil and Gas Development Company 4.2pc which dragged the index.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020