The benchmark index of Pakistan Stock Exchange closed the week on March 03, 2023 at 41,337 points, depicting an increase of 1.55% over the course of the week. Participation in the market improved, with daily volumes averaging 159.76 million shares during the week, as compared to 137.89 million shares in the prior week depicting a gain of 15.9%WoW.
The local currency depreciated heavily against the US$ which lead to a negative sentiment in the market midweek. However, a positive market reaction was seen where the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) hiked the policy rate by 300bps to 20% to fulfill the prior condition of IMF for the long awaited staff level agreement to avert sovereign default and secure the US$1.2 billion disbursement.
Foreign exchange reserves held by SBP inched up by US$556 million to US$3.81 billion as on February 24, with the import cover still remaining below a month.
Other major news flows during the week included: 1) Moody’s downgrades Pakistan’s rating to Caa3; changes outlook to stable from negative, 2) February 2023 CPI jumps to 31.5%, highest rate in nearly 50 years, 3) US$700 million Chinese loan lands in SBP account, 4) 8MFY23 trade deficit narrows 33.18%YoY, 5) RKR2 billion shortfall in February 2023 tax collection and 6) Money supply reaches to PKR30.68 trillion in 7MFY23.
Top performing sectors were: Miscellaneous, Commercial banks, and Woolen, while the least favorite sectors were: Tobacco, Leather and Tanneries, and Property.
Stock-wise, top performers were: PSEL, UBL, BAFL, EPCL, and MEBL, while laggards were: PGLC, SML, PAKT, SRVI, and JVDC.
Flow wise, insurance companies were the major buyers with net buy of US$10.42 million, followed by companies with net buy of US$8.15 million, while foreign investors were major sellers during the week, with a net sell of US$9.48 million.
All eyes on the Staff Level Agreement, Pakistan is in a very critical situation where delays in the 9th Review can’t be tolerated. Any news flow regarding foreign inflows, whether from the IMF or other bi-lateral and multilateral sources, would support the market.
The market may remain jittery in the near future due to higher inflation expected to be driven by hikes in gas tariff and the GST implementation starting to materialize.
The PKR continues its slide against the Greenback and as the open market rate inches upwards there is no clarity as to its limit.
With this backdrop, we continue to advocate scrips that have dollar-denominated revenue streams to hedge against the currency risk, which include the Technology and E&P sectors.