Trading environment remained gloomy at the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday as jittery investors opted to stay on the sidelines due to concerns over increasing Covid-19 infection cases in the country.

Despite some positive indicators like approval of mini-budget and fresh appreciation of the rupee against the greenback, the benchmark KSE-100 index remained volatile throughout the day and dropped by 151 points to start the week on a negative note.

Moreover, increasing crude oil prices in the international market haunted the investors and as a result the KSE-100 index remained range bound.

Earlier, trading began on a dull note as the KSE-100 index started falling at a steady pace in the initial hours. Before the close of first half of the session, the index touched an intra-day low of 45,386 points.

Later, the index oscillated in a narrow range and gradually started recouping the losses. During the final hour, the market witnessed some buying activity, which erased some of the losses.

At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded a decrease of 151.25 points, or 0.33%, to settle at 45,612.20.

A report of Arif Habib Limited stated that the market continued to remain under pressure due to the uptick in Covid-19 cases and higher international oil prices.

The market opened on a bleak note and stayed dull throughout the day even after the endorsement of mini-budget by the president and recovery of Pakistani rupee against the US dollar as investors turned risk averse due to the alarming Covid-19 numbers, it said.

The cement sector stayed in the red zone because of an uptick in international coal prices. In the last trading hour, value buying was observed.

The market continued to trade sideways as it witnessed hefty volumes in third-tier stocks.

Sectors contributing to the performance included technology and communication (-101 points), commercial banks (-28 points), refinery (-14 points), textile composite (-7.5 points) and insurance (-7 points).

JS Global analyst Neelam Naz said that the Pakistan Stock Exchange witnessed a dull trading session as investors chose to stay on the sidelines amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

WorldCall Telecom (-4%), TRG Pakistan (-7.5%), Cnergyico Pk (-2.9%), Alfalah Consumer Index Exchange Traded Fund (+0.5%) and Telecard Limited (-2.8%) were the major contributors to the trading volumes.

Major index laggards were TRG Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, National Refinery Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company and Bank Alfalah.

“Going forward, we recommend investors to avail any downside as an opportunity to buy stocks of technology, fertiliser, oil and gas exploration and cyclical sectors,” the analyst said.

Overall trading volumes declined to 173.5 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 239.98 million. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs6.1 billion.

Shares of 336 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 102 stocks closed higher, 218 declined and 16 remained unchanged.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader with 25.5 million shares, losing Rs0.1 to close at Rs2.37. It was followed by TRG Pakistan with 20.1 million shares, losing Rs7.8 to close at Rs96.45 and Cnergyico Pk with 12.9 million shares, losing Rs0.21 to close at Rs6.95.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs45.13 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan.