Uncertainty shrouded the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Friday and a mixture of bullish and bearish sentiment led to a flat close of the benchmark KSE-100 index on last trading day of the week.

While the market cheered the approval of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill by the Senate and saw fresh buying, looming economic and political uncertainty offset the gains.

Investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of expected nod from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for resuming its $6 billion loan programme for Pakistan.

Moreover, speculation about higher inflation in January instilled pessimism among market participants, triggering stock selling at the bourse.

Earlier, trading kicked off with a brief decline, when the index touched intra-day low of 45,042 points. However, it soon managed to recoup the losses and closed first half of the session in green zone.

At the start of second half, the market witnessed a buying spree as it touched intra-day high of 45,312 points. Later, across-the-board profit-taking dragged the index down, erasing all the gains.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 5.13 points, or 0.01%, to settle at 45,077.91.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Arif Habib Commodities CEO and MD Ahsan Mehanti was of the view that the approval of SBP bill sparked buying activity at the bourse at the start of second half of the session.

Market players cheered the Senate’s approval of SBP bill, which was expected to pave the way for approval of the resumption of IMF loan programme in its board meeting on February 2, 2022.

However, expectations of a higher inflation reading for January amid some uncertainty about the revival of IMF loan programme dented the interest of investors, who then opted to book profits.

“Economic uncertainty amid political noise in the country sparked selling pressure, dragging the index down, which closed on a flat note,” he said.

A report of Arif Habib Limited stated that a range-bound session was witnessed at the bourse due to concerns over mounting international oil prices and rising Covid-19 cases.

The market opened on a positive note but soon profit-taking was witnessed across the board, it said.

Lucky Cement closed in the red due to disappointing results. Its gross margins dipped to 22.6% during 2QFY22 (2QFY21: 29.2%), amid higher coal prices, rupee depreciation and augmented packaging costs coupled with volumetric decline, the report said.

Mainboard activity remained gloomy. On the flip side, activity continued to remain sideways as the market witnessed hefty volumes in third-tier stocks.

Sectors contributing to the performance included cement (-39 points), exploration and production (-18 points), chemical (-13 points), oil marketing companies (-11 points) and automobile assemblers (-3 points).

JS Global analyst Neelam Naz said that the benchmark KSE-100 index touched intra-day high of 45,312 before finally closing flat at 45,078.

Hum Network (+2.3%), WorldCall Telecom (+1.4%), Ghani Global Holdings (+5.8%), TRG Pakistan (+1.4%) and Engro Fertilisers (+0.7%) were the highest contributors.

Main laggards were Lucky Cement, Colgate-Palmolive (Pakistan), Systems Limited, MCB Bank and Oil and Gas Development Company.

“Going forward, we recommend investors to wait for fresh buying positions until the market receives some positive triggers,” the analyst said.

Overall trading volumes surged to 258.9 million shares compared with Thursday’s tally of 173.6 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs8.1 billion.

Shares of 333 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 200 stocks closed higher, 113 declined and 20 remained unchanged.

Hum Network was the volume leader with 37.9 million shares, gaining Rs0.16 to close at Rs7.12. It was followed by WorldCall Telecom with 31.5 million shares, gaining Rs0.03 to close at Rs2.21 and Ghani Global Holdings with 16.5 million shares, gaining Rs1.13 to close at Rs20.63.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs46.56 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.