A three-day bull-run came to an end at the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Thursday as the benchmark KSE-100 index lost 149 points on the back of a surge in cases of Covid Delta variant that dented investor interest.

The confidence of market participants waned after the country reported 5,661 virus cases on Thursday, the highest number of infections since April. The mounting daily infections indicated that Covid-related preventive measures would be further tightened, which would deal a blow to the economy.

The refinery sector succumbed to the selling pressure and closed entirely in the red.

Earlier, trading began on a positive note and the index climbed in early hours, however, selling pressure emerged shortly afterwards and erased the gains.

The market fell steadily from this point onwards and in the final hour profit-booking accelerated the decline.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 149 points, or 0.31%, to settle at 47,640.88.

A report of Arif Habib Limited stated that the market traded in a narrow range of -207 points and +107 points, closing the session down by 149 points.

Profit-booking was still at work, particularly in technology, banks, oil and gas marketing companies and chemical sectors, where stock prices had gone up in previous sessions. Meanwhile, the steel and cement sectors saw the continuation of their consolidation phase.

The rupee-dollar parity was stable, however, the outlook suggested that an appreciation was in the offing, which kept the investors undecided on their portfolio positions, the report added.

JS Global analyst Neelum Naz said that the KSE-100 index opened on an attractive note and touched intra-day high of 47,896 points in early hours. But it could not sustain the momentum, giving way to selling pressure. The market eventually closed at 47,641, down 149 points.

The automobile sector was in the limelight on news that the government was considering slashing the additional customs duty and regulatory duty on automobiles.

 “Going forward, we expect the market to undergo further correction and advise clients to view any dip as a buying opportunity in technology, cement and steel sectors,” the analyst said.

Overall trading volumes rose to 546.8 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 532.95 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs15.4 billion.

Shares of 492 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 212 stocks closed higher, 263 declined and 17 remained unchanged.

PTCL was the volume leader with 62.1 million shares, gaining Rs0.58 to close at Rs12.63. It was followed by TPL Corp with 42.7 million shares, losing Rs0.95 to close at Rs23.93 and Telecard Limited with 35.6 million shares, gaining Rs0.29 to close at Rs18.14.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs20.5 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.