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Business as usual at KSE

June 21, 2012

KARACHI, June 20: To the surprise of many, the Karachi Stock market took the disqualification of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in stride.

The day after the PM's fall, the KSE-100 index moved between a narrow band of low and high of 13634 and 13781 points, depicting the maximum intra-day loss of 50 points. The index settled after an insignificant loss of 15.81 points. The market actually began on a positive note climbing 98 points to intra-day high of 13,781 points.

Some market participants who were espousing the idea of an initial fall of 100-150 points as inevitable were seen shaking their heads in disbelief.

They admitted that the panic may have subsided after the early hours, but such positive start was startling.

All of that raises the interesting question: What could have saved the market from going over the cliff in early trade? Sure the disqualified Prime Minister was never known to have had great love for the stock market, such as some people think PM Shaukat Aziz had in his days in office.

A stock broker explained that investors had adopted the 'wait and see' attitude, evident in the turnover, which totalled to a recent low of just 47 million shares.

He also pointed out that the government and the Parliament were intact.

No one wants to dampen the spirits of investors, but it has to be recalled that one issue that had kept market under pressure up until the adoption of Finance Bill 2012 was the nagging worry over the question whether the Presidential Ordinance of April 12 would or would not be incorporated in the Finance Bill? The Ordinance granted immunity to the disclosure of source of Funds invested in the stock market for two years until June 2014.

With no immediate answers, that issue had resurfaced, as the date of disqualification backdates to April 26, many weeks before the passage of the Finance Bill.

A senior analyst at a major brokerage house observed that according to legal experts the legislative decisions (including the budget) would likely be given constitutional cover in the detailed judgment of the Supreme Court, but the administrative measures could be annulled.

Also the unsettling fear whether the new PM would write the letter to Swiss authorities or the events leading to the disqualification of PM Gilani would be replayed, should have caused some anxiety among the stock investing public.

Yet another market strategist suggested that one more reason that may have prevented panic selling and the small investors' dash to the exit door could be that they do not hold significant percent of free-float.

The figures released by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan in the evening on Wednesday offered some insight into day's trading.

Foreign investors, companies and banks had sold stocks in the aggregate value of $10.31 million that day; foreign outflow being $2.02 million.

Mutual Funds bought $4.50 million worth equity and Individuals were aggressive buyers, mopping up stocks valued at $3.35 million.

A market expert wondered if the 'individuals' could be further broken up in: high-net worth individuals (setting some benchmark of maximum sum invested), the small investors and the equity bought by brokers to put the plank under the fall.

A broker who argued against suggestion of market manipulation said that such support, if at all, could not be extended for an indefinite period of time.

All of which leaves the trading pattern in the next few days as interesting to watch.