Pakistan Stock Exchange Benchmark Index Touches New Highs – OpEd


The market’s bullish momentum continued during the week ended on April 05, 2024, with the benchmark index challenging previous highs and achieving the highest-ever closing at 68,417 points on Thursday, with a gain of 1,412 points or 2.1%WoW.

The momentum was supported by easing inflation, turning real interest rates positive for the first time in 38 months.

Foreign investors and institutions injected additional liquidity through buying, supporting the market’s momentum.

Despite a 9.2%MoM growth in exports, trade deficit widened to US$2.2 billion, up 25%MoM.

With Eid approaching, remittances are expected to increase, helping to control the current account balance.

FBR missed its monthly tax collection target for the third consecutive month, although the 9MFY24 numbers were still within target.

World Bank estimated the country’s GDP growth target at 1.8% for the current year, below 3% for the following two years, resulting in an overall combined GDP growth for three years that remains lower than the population growth rate.

With a stable exchange rate and high yields, hot money has begun to return, with net inflows into T-bills from January to March 22, 2024, reaching US$126 million.

Reportedly Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in purchasing shares of two E&P giants  OGDC and PPL, in addition to an expected investment of US$1.0 billion in the Reko Diq project.

According to the reports, Lahore High Court dismissed the application against the deregulation of non-essential medicines, which boosted positivity in the sector on the last trading day of the week.

Lastly, increasing tensions in the Middle East have led to international oil prices reaching their highest levels in six months, posing risks to Pakistan’s import bill as well as the inflation outlook if not eased promptly.

Despite bullish sentiments, market participation declined with daily traded volume averaging at 307 million shares as compared to 331 million shares a week ago, down 7.1%WoW.

Other major news flows during the week included: 1) experts estimated Pakistan needs US$120 billion needs in external financing over five years, 2) Petrol price increased by PKR9.66 per litre, and 3) Cement dispatches were up 3.85%MoM in March.

Pharmaceuticals and Refineries were amongst the top performers, while Transport, Tobacco, and Synthetic & Rayon were amongst the worst performers. 

Major net selling was recorded by Insurance cos. with a net sell of US$5.6 million. Foreigners absorbed most of the selling with a net buy of US$3.9 million.

Top performing scrips of the week were: DAWH, SCBPL, MUREB, BIPL and SEARL, while top laggards included: PTC, KTML, PAKT, IBFL and PKGS.

Going forward, market is expected to return its focus to negotiations with the IMF regarding the EFF program, upcoming monetary policy committee meeting, and the corporate results season following the Eid holidays.

Despite the market reaching its highest levels, the forward P/E remains below 4.0x, which instills positivity regarding the market’s fundamentals. Analysts continue to advise investors to consider fundamentally strong stocks.

Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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