The stock market continued its advance for the second day on Wednesday as the benchmark KSE-100 index gained around 260 points, but trading remained mostly range bound.

Investor optimism on the first day of Ramazan came on the back of approaching corporate earnings season, which sparked a rally and helped sustain the positive momentum.

Upbeat automobile sales data, which showed a robust growth of 198% in March 2021, kept the investment climate buoyant.

Encouraging numbers released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) for the large-scale manufacturing (LSM) sector, which grew 7.45% in the first eight months (Jul-Feb) of current fiscal year despite the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, triggered optimism.

Approval of the budget strategy paper ahead of the budget announcement for next fiscal year 2021-22, however, forced investors to trade cautiously.

The bourse kept swinging between red and green zones and although it largely remained in the green, the nervousness in the wake of countrywide protests and rising coronavirus cases was very well noted.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded an increase of 262.65 points, or 0.58%, to settle at 45,311.22 points.

In its report, Arif Habib Limited stated that the first day of Ramazan marked a positive opening for the benchmark KSE-100 index with overall increase of 299 points during the session.

Expectations about the quarterly corporate results pushed investors to take a positive view of the market.

Buying activity was observed in cyclical sectors such as auto, cement and steel. Among oil and gas marketing companies, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines performed and refinery and technology stocks also fared well where NetSol hit its upper circuit.

Sectors contributing to the performance included technology (+46 points), cement (+35 points), banks (+29 points), exploration and production (+26 points) and refinery (+24 points).

Individually, stocks that contributed positively to the index included TRG Pakistan (+32 points), Fauji Fertiliser (+19 points), HBL (+19 points), Lucky Cement (+18 points) and Attock Refinery (+17 points).

Stocks that contributed negatively were MCB (-12 points), Pakistan Oilfields (-9 points), Allied Bank (-4 points), Kohinoor Textile Mills (-3 points) and Unity Foods (-3 points).

Overall trading volumes dropped to 341.9 million shares compared with Tuesday’s tally of 473.4 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs16.4 billion.

Shares of 380 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 219 stocks closed higher, 137 declined and 24 remained unchanged.

First National Equities was the volume leader with 43.1 million shares, losing Rs0.82 to close at Rs11.11. It was followed by Media Times with 20.2 million shares, gaining Rs0.52 to close at Rs3.97 and Ghani Global Holdings with 19.5 million shares, gaining Rs1.35 to close at Rs33.62.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs81.7 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pak

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