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Negative trend persists

The Karachi stocks market braved the fifth consecutive bearish weekly closing last week. The week that ended on Friday, March 27, saw the KSE-100 index shedding 5.7 percent or 1,842.43 points to close below the psychological barrier of 30,000 points. The benchmark index shrank to 29,957.83 points from 31,800.26 of March 20.

The equity analysts attribute this negative trend mainly to continued selling by foreign portfolio investors.

"Persistent foreign selling continues to dampen investors' sentiments," viewed Raheel Ashraf of JS Global. The week under review witnessed the offshore investors selling their positions to the tune of $15 million (net) compared to $24 million of the preceding week. This, the market observer said, took the month-to-date foreign selling to $72 million.

The foreign investors, Raheel said, remained risk-averse despite positives like last Saturday's 50 basis points cut in its policy rate and Moody's upgrading its outlook on Pakistan to positive from stable.

The massive fall, Topline analysts opined, occurred when the local mutual funds followed their foreign counterparts offloading their positions. Also, they cited roll-over of future contracts as a reason for the negative week.

The average daily trading turnover, however, settled in the green zone and surged by 24 percent to 175 million shares. The daily value also grew 12 percent to average on Rs 9.4 billion or $92.5 million.

After consistent underperformance, the oil and gas sector outperformed the market on the back of, as Raheel said, oil making its largest five-day gain since 2009 on Saudi Arabia's strike on Yemen's Houthi rebels and the OGDC finding oil reserves at Palli field in Sindh.

With cement sector appearing as key laggards, major selling was seen in chemicals, automobiles and non-life insurance sectors.

Local mutual funds were net sellers of $10.5 million while the local banks bought shares worth $20.3 million. Bank of Punjab, Packages, Kohinoor Textile Mills and Pak Suzuki were the major losers, while Pakistan Tobacco and Murree Brewery topped the best performers list.

Other key highlights of the week were: Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) sector expanding by 2.15 percent YoY in 7MFY15, cut-off yields of PIBs falling by up to 39bps, oil imports declining by 17.8 percent YoY in 8MFY15 and the Finance Minister foreseeing the country's dollar reserves swelling beyond $18 billion by December this year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015