LAHORE - Bears returned to the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the benchmark KSE 100-index losing 196 points to close at 43,948 points.

Stock market gained in the early hours of session, making an intra-day high of +189 points, but plummeted during the finishing hours of the trading session, touching an intra-day low of -250 points. On the political front, usual pre-election temperature further intensified as an inquiry against former premier Nawaz Sharif and former petroleum minister Khaqan Abbasi was opened for allegedly awarding a 15-year contract to a ‘favored’ company for construction of liquefied natural Gas (LNG) terminal by allegedly misusing their powers and violating rules and regulation. Moreover, on the economic front, World Bank expects Pakistan’s GDP to rise by 5.8 percent during fiscal year 2017-18, before moderating to 5 percent in fiscal year 2018-19, reflecting tighter policies to improve macroeconomic stability.

Yesterday’s major heavyweights namely HBL (-2.42 percent), PPL (-0.51 percent), ENGRO (-2.06 percent), MCB (-0.71 percent), FFC (-0.69 percent) and HUBC (+0.27) cumulatively contributed -137 points to the index. Traded volumes impaired by +2 percent DoD to 227m shares while value traded plummeted to $77m. Top volume stocks were BOP (-0.23 percent), PAEL (+3.27 percent) and PIBTL (-4.39 percent). Profit-taking was witnessed in financials and cements that dragged the index down in red where HBL (-2.42 percent), MCB (-0.71), BAFL (-0.16 percent), and NBP (-1.31 percent) closed negative.

Moving forward, it is expected that market will remain range-bound with flows from local and foreign institutions directing the market before the general elections 2018.