The Pakistan Stock Exchange began the week on a negative note on Monday, with the benchmark KSE-100 index diving nearly 700 points during the session as the market reacted to repercussions of a strike call.

Gathering clouds on the political and security fronts spooked investors and they began offloading stocks following the decision taken by traders across the country to keep markets shut after former chairman of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, late on Sunday called for a nationwide strike.

In the backdrop of rising coronavirus cases coupled with growing tensions over the law and order situation in the country, the KSE-100 index fell below the 45,000-point mark.

In the morning, the market kicked off trading with a dip and continued to spiral downwards throughout the day. Although mid-session buying helped the benchmark index recoup some of the losses, it still finished deep in the red.

Midday relief came on the back of corporate result announcement by Engro Fertilisers and Mari Petroleum. Moreover, investors welcomed newly appointed Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 392.06 points, or 0.87%, to settle at 44,913.57 points.

Arif Habib Limited, in its report, stated that following the turmoil over the weekend on the law and order front, the KSE-100 index dropped 694 points during the session. However, it recovered about 300 points afterwards.

The newly appointed finance minister took charge, which helped boost investor confidence, however, selling pressure kept the index recovery in check.

Among fertiliser stocks, Engro Fertilisers announced its financial results with a healthy dividend payout, which helped the stock perform better.

Sectors contributing to the performance included technology (-128 points), banks (-54 points), power (-36 points), textile (-33 points) and cement (-30 points).

Individually, stocks that contributed positively to the index included Mari Petroleum (+29 points), Engro Fertilisers (+21 points), Engro Corporation (+17 points), Abbott Laboratories (+8 points) and Honda Atlas Cars (+7 points).

Stocks that contributed negatively were TRG Pakistan (-126 points), Hubco (-31 points), Fauji Fertiliser (-22 points), HBL (-19 points) and Pakistan State Oil (-16 points).

JS Global analyst Muhammad Mubashir said that the KSE-100 index came under pressure at the opening of trading amid political noise over the weekend.

The bourse failed to sustain the 45,000-point mark and the KSE-100 index closed at 44,913, down 392 points. The market remained volatile throughout the day, he said.

Total traded volume stood at 363 million shares where top contributors were WorldCall Telecom (+8.3%), Byco Petroleum (+1.7%), TRG Pakistan (-7.1%), and Ghani Global Holdings (-6.7%).

Heavy selling pressure was noted in the technology sector. Separately, Byco Petroleum was in the limelight on news that it had begun work on producing compliant fuels (Euro 5 and 6) and would convert furnace oil into petrol and diesel by 2024.

“We expect the market to remain volatile on the back of political uncertainty and recommend investors to book profits on the higher side and wait for any sharp dips to accumulate value stocks, mainly in cement and steel sectors,” the analyst said.

Overall trading volumes rose to 363.1 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 173.5 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs12.7 billion.

Shares of 379 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 109 stocks closed higher, 255 declined and 15 remained unchanged.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader with 101.4 million shares, gaining Rs0.13 to close at Rs1.69. It was followed by Byco Petroleum with 24.3 million shares, gaining Rs0.17 to close at Rs10.19 and TRG Pakistan with 23.4 million shares, losing Rs11.69 to close at Rs153.5.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs37.6 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.