KARACHI: Stocks extended the fall for the third consecutive day on Monday as the KSE-100 index plunged by 204.32 points, or 0.44 per cent, to close at 45,726.68.

The market started out in a grim mood with the index sinking in the red to intraday low of 217 points. Bulls made several attempts to regain their hold and even managed to pop out of the red and climb to intraday high by 117 points, that saw it break through the 46,000 points.

The last trading hour, however, saw heavy selling pressure in the exploration & production, fertiliser, oil & gas marketing companies, cement and banking sector.

Investors were spooked by the uncertainty over the political events as the opposition parties plan to protest outside the offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan over foreign funding case on Tuesday.

On the economic side, the news of Cabinet Committee on Energy set to meet later in the day to discuss ways to grapple with the LNG crisis, which also included cut in gas supplies to ‘a large number of industries on a long-term basis’, raised concerns.

Market strategists thought that in such an eventuality their corporate profit projections for the next quarter could go awry, which led to fall in share prices of fertiliser, cement and allied industries. The E&P sector saw all four major scrips end in deep red due to regression in international crude prices.

The traded volume for the day rose 29pc over the previous session to 543.6m shares while the value was up 21pc to Rs21.7bn. TRG Pakistan led the volume list.

Pearl Securities stated that AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in Pakistan which triggered healthy interest in pharma stocks.

Select shares in the banking sector rose on sharp growth of 22pc in deposits and analysts’ expectations of improved earnings by 16pc year-on-year for full FY20.

Textile composite shares continued to edge higher on impressive increase of exports by 22.7pc in December, amounting to $1.4bn.

Scrip-wise, the major drags on the index were PPL, Hubco, POL, Lucky Cement and OGDC. Gainers for the day were TRG, UBL, HMB, FABL and SHFA.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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