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PSX soars to new high of 67,756 points fuelled by cyclic sector


A broker looks at an index board showing the latest share prices at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi. — AFP/File
A broker looks at an index board showing the latest share prices at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi. — AFP/File

Pakistan’s stock market scaled a new peak on Wednesday as majority of investors cheered the government’s privatisation push amid hopes of a rate cut especially after signs that inflation was finally cooling down, traders said.

Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) benchmark KSE-100 index ended at 67,756.03 after jumping by a massive 869.77 points or 1.30%.

The cyclic sector stole the show on Wednesday as investors parked a lot of money in the cement and steel companies, mainly after reports of a rise in local and international cement dispatches for March.

However sectors like transport, technology and communication and commercial banking, also remained on investors’ radar.

Moreover, the government’s privatisation plans especially its initiative to sell off some State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) fed the market with optimism as the consensus is that these companies would turn around in terms of profitability and efficiency under private ownership.

It must be noted that the Privatisation Commission on Tuesday opened the door for selling off Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), inviting expressions of interest (EOIs) from potential buyers.

“Confidence [is] further improving after good progress on privatisation along with foreign portfolio investment in government papers,” said Mohammed Sohail, CEO of brokerage house Topline Securities, in a note during intra-day trading.

“Cements stocks are (also) in limelight amid expectations of rate cut in coming months,” he said.

Brokerage Arif Habib Limited (AHL) in its market wrap said strong moves in the cement sector saw the KSE-100 push further into unchartered territory.

“As many as 67 stocks rose while 24 fell with Engro (+4.88%), Engro Fertilizer (+3.9%), and Lucky Cement (+4.78%) emerging as the biggest contributors to index gains,” the brokerage said.

It further said the addition of the cement sector, which had been sideways since the start of the year, could add another dynamic to the bull market. “Cement and steel names are positioning themselves to potentially be outperformers in Q2,” the AHL report said.

Pakistan’s consumer price index (CPI) for March 2024 punched in at 20.7% year-on-year, as compared to 23.1% year-on-year in February 2024 and 35.4% year-on-year in March 2023, the latest data issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

In March 2024, the CPI surged by 1.7% compared to a mere 0.03% rise in the previous month and a 3.7% increase in March 2023, marking a notable uptick in inflation. These inflation figures surpassed market forecasts.

Consequently, the average annual inflation for the first nine months of fiscal year 2024 stands at 27.2% year-on-year, aligning with the corresponding figures from the previous year.

According to JS Global, this marks the lowest inflation rate recorded since May 2022, when it was at 13.8%. Additionally, it is the first instance in over three years that the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation has fallen below the key policy rate, currently set at 22%.

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