KARACHI - Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) kicked off the month of August with a 523 points (1.1%) gain and the 100-share index closed at 46, 533.43 points.

Gains were lead by energy chain sector on the back of higher crude oil prices with US benchmark WTI trading near US$50/bbl after 2 months.

HBL continued to slide, briefly hitting its lower limit during intraday trade as the rumor mill is rife with speculation regarding an alleged penalty.  Late interest was seen in the leading bank which stemmed the decline to 2.7%.

HBL is trading near 6month low, having shed 26% from its peak closing rate of Rs308.57 recorded on 11th May’17, while the KSE?100 index has fallen 10% since, observed analyst at Topline Securities.

Investor sentiment was bullish on account of political certainty and improved inflation numbers which clocked in at 2.91% for the month of July-17. BYCO (up 4.6%) gained on the back of news of production resumed from its 120,000bpd refinery. ASL (up 5.0%) and ISL (rose 5.0%) closed at their respective upper circuits as customs increased import duty on steel giving advantage to local steel industry, stated analyst at JS Global.

Top 5 index point performers were ENGRO (up 4.5%), SNGP (5%), PSO (5%), POL (4%) & OGDC (2%), adding 258 points; while HBL (down 2.7%), ABOT (3.9%), LUCK (7%), KTML (3.1%) & DAWH (0.7%) held back 177 points (out of which HBL was 127 points).

On the sector front, OMCs added 121 points, E&Ps 119 points, fertilizer 99 points, power 55 points & cement 42 points; while banks shed 50 points.

Stocks closed bullish led by oil and fertilizer scrips on strong valuations. Fertilizer scrips outperformed amid reports of resolution of fertilizer sector subsidy issues by the government. Banking stocks remained in pressure on falling banking spreads. Record rise in global crude prices and corporate results in the cement, oil and auto sector played a catalyst role in bullish close, said analyst Ahsan Mehanti at Arif Habib Corp.

Participation thinned as volumes declined 20% to 256m shares while traded value shed 6% to Rs17.6b/$167m.