Selling pressure persisted at the Pakistan Stock Exchange for another session on Thursday as the benchmark KSE-100 index fell 196 points and closed below the 45,000-point mark.

A host of robust financial results failed to turn direction of the market as investors remained cautious ahead of the budget for fiscal year 2021-22, scheduled to be announced after Ramazan.

Index-heavy automobile, cement, financial, fertiliser and oil sectors were the major laggards where a modest sell-off was observed.

The session kicked off with a spike, however, the market failed to sustain the gains due to lack of investor interest and the index marched downwards. A few attempts made to reverse direction of the market proved futile and the day ended on a negative note.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 196.01 points, or 0.44%, to settle at 44,863.11 points.

Arif Habib Limited, in its report, stated that the market dropped further with a decline of 278 points during the session. It ended down by 196 points.

“Selling was evident across the board, but had the most impact on cement, fertiliser and steel sectors,” it said.

Financial results failed to generate the usual interest among investors, perhaps due to the upcoming budget right after Ramazan and a long “hibernating period” before the next financial results would be announced, it said.

JS Global analyst Muhammad Mubashir said that the market came under pressure amid the current rollover week. It closed at 44,863, down 196 points compared to Wednesday’s close.

He said that the market opened on a positive note, but could not maintain its levels above 45,000 points and fell victim to across-the-board profit-taking. Overall volumes decreased by 8% day-on-day to 281 million shares.

Hascol Petroleum (+8.7%), Ghani Global Holdings (-7.1%), Telecard Limited (-3.4%), TRG Pakistan (+0.5%) and Ghani Global Glass (-2.5%) led the volume charts as they cumulatively contributed 45% to the aggregate volumes.

“We recommend investors to adopt a ‘buy-on-dips’ strategy in technology, cement and refinery stocks,” the analyst said.

Overall trading volumes dropped to 280.7 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 305.8 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs13.6 billion.

Shares of 375 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 137 stocks closed higher, 230 declined and eight remained unchanged.

Hascol Petroleum was the volume leader with 43.9 million shares, gaining Rs0.77 to close at Rs9.58. It was followed by Ghani Global Holdings with 32.6 million shares, losing Rs3.1 to close at Rs40.38 and Telecard Limited with 19.6 million shares, losing Rs0.56 to close at Rs15.78.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs284.8 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.