KARACHI  – Pakistan equities remained under pressure during ongoing week due to depleting foreign exchange reserves and concerns on external/fiscal imbalances as highlighted by IMF and Standard chartered Global Research in their recent publications.

The benchmark index floated in range of 42,861 to 44,074 index level, witnessing volatility of more than 1,200 points. The major selling pressure was observed in commercial banks, erasing 180 points from index, followed by Fertilizer sector losing 120 points to the index. No sector came ahead to support index level, except chemicals contributing 10 points rise.

The week started off on a slightly positive note post peaceful culmination of senate elections. However, gains couldn’t sustain during the week where index closed at 43,011 points, down by 1.7 percent or 729 points. Foreign investors remained net seller, exhibiting a net outflow of 3.9 million dollars.

Positive sector specific news such as(i) another Rs10/bag hike in cement prices in the north region (following increase of last week) and (ii) media reports of government plan to release Rs 80 billion to partially address the circular debt ahead of peak demand summer months failed to ignite bullish sentiments, said an analyst of the brokerage house. As far as individual scrips are concerned, AGP Pharma Ltd made its debut at Pakistan Stock Exchange this week after its IPO and post handsome return of 18 percent in the first week of listing.

The latest encouraging data on trade account for July-Feb’18 (trade deficit reportedly down 21 percent on month and month basis in Feb’18 with monthly growth in exports 16 percent vs 9 percent jump in imports) and the statement from the government officials regarding future plans to eradicate circular debt before elections may become source of excitement. Furthermore, PAMA is set to release auto sales numbers for the month of February in the coming week where any surprises on the upside may ignite investor interest in the sector.