KARACHI: The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) remained under a bearish spell for the third day in a row amid worrying news about COVID-19 infections and reports of a potential lockdown.

The news that government may impose a ‘stringent smart lockdown’ from Monday made investors lighten investments to avoid losses.

The Karachi Share Index (KSE-100) lost 196.01 points (0.44 percent) after closing at 44,863.11 points, against the previous closing of 45,059.12 points. The market went as high as 45,142.10 points during intraday trading, while recording as low as 44,777.72 points.

Trading volume declined to 280.6million shares as compared to 305.76m traded in the previous session, according to PSX’s website data. The daily traded value also declined to Rs13.6billion from Rs16.16bn in the previous session, the data said.

The share price of Colgate Palmolive increased by Rs50 to Rs2,800, while Gatron Ind. gained Rs33.50 to Rs509. On the other hand, Sapphire Textile lost Rs48.33 today to close at Rs851.67, while Pakistan Tobacco lost Rs46.33 to close at Rs1,383.67.

In absence of a clear across-the-country plan, the surge in infections and news of an imminent lockdown is adding to the worries of the investors, analysts and traders have said. The lockdown itself may not cause much damage to the market, but the uncertainty surrounding it is causing losses to the market, they added.

The policy flip-flop on the lockdown on Wednesday further fueled the ambiguity surrounding the government’s strategy to contain the spread of coronavirus amid soaring infections and death rate.

Earlier this week, an internal memo of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was leaked to the media that suggested the imposition of a blanket lockdown in 20 cities, including Lahore, Islamabad, and Hyderabad, from next week.

“Two weeks city-wise lockdown in districts and cities with high disease prevalence is tentatively planned with effect from 2 or 3 May 20201,” the NCOC letter had said, asking the admins concerned to take appropriate measures. However, the notification was retracted after a day, adding to the confusion surrounding the lockdown.

The author is a senior business and economy journalist . He has worked for leading local and international news organisations.

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