KARACHI: The stock market was rattled by the international oil prices which made history by turning into negative where US crude oil futures slipped in the red as supply glut was created in the absence of near-term demand.

With exploration and production (E&P) being the major heavyweight sector in the KSE-100 index, the entire oil chain stocks took full force of the blow. The market opened in deep red and plunged 1,076.82 points (3.21 per cent) to settle at 32,422.83.

Intraday, the index fell 1,199 points. Investors were also scared stiff of the rising pandemic cases in the country.

The E&P sector contributed the highest 288 points to the index slide with all three major main stocks - Oil and Gas Development Company, Pakistan Petroleum and Pakistan Oilfields going into free fall to hit their lower circuits or stop just short of it. In oil and gas marketing, Pakistan State Oil and Hascol also lost the maximum for a day.

Arif Habib Ltd stated in its report: “The concerns raised by the IMF over G20 debt relief, announced last week by the government, as well as hinting higher than expected inflation with a caution over the policy rate cut caused the market to panic”.

Among participants, foreigners continued to quit selling shares worth $2.50 million. Mutual Funds also booked profit while individuals and companies picked up equities on dips. The volume declined 15pc over the previous day to 339.2m shares while traded value dropped 12pc and reached $95.5m.

Cement sector saw profit-taking in early trade but the whispers of a possible increase in prices going forward brought the selling to a halt. Healthy activity was also seen due to expected benefits from interest rate cuts that would ease burden on leveraged companies.

High-priced stocks that dragged the index down included Engro Corpor­ation, lower by 5.8pc, Habib Bank 2.7pc, Fauji Fertiliser 3.7pc, Hub Power 6.7pc, Lucky Cement 2.6pc, OGDC 7.1pc and PPL 7.4pc.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020